New Delhi: Achint Babbar swam against the odds to win the gold medal for India at the Special Olympics. He is an inspiration for every child with special needs.
Agility, rigorous training and years of hard work - all are prerequisites to become a swimming champion, but for Achint Babbar, it also meant having lots of grit to overcome his disability. As the 23-year-old takes confident laps in the pool, it is difficult to gather that this freestyle swimmer has mental retardation, speech problem and learning disability.
"When he was diagnosed with multiple disabilities, I couldn't accept. We tried every therapy, all medicines, but nothing worked," his mother Kanchan Babbar said.
The sight of physcially-disabled children struggling to stand on their feet outside a Delhi temple inspired Kanchan Babbar to push her son to take baby steps. The family then enrolled him in a local swimming academy and in water, Achint found his true calling. Out-swimming competitors from around the globe, he took a giant plunge, winning a gold for India at the Special Olympics held in China. "I'm delighted to have a son like him, he has made us very proud," said his father Rajinder Babbar.
His achievements didn't go unrecognised. The Delhi government has awarded him the Rajiv Gandhi Sports Award and then came the big moment when the President honoured Achint with the National Award under Role model category.
The Babbars have stood like a rock, helping Achint find his own footing in this world. "Families hide children with disabilities. We take Achint to various places like historical monuments, exhibitions, films. He meets people, interacts with them. He is socially alert. We think he's not just a role model but can actually become a model. We have got his portfolio made," said his mother.
The family now hopes that his will be an inspiration for every child with special needs. Achint can't speak, but perhaps he doesn't need to because his swimming strokes are speaking louder than words. This swimming sensation has overcome his limitations to emerge as a winner and give hope to others.