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From Adversity To Triumph – An Inspiring Journey

“These kids we label ‘special’, are truly born to do special things in their lives!”
Young woman deadlifting. Text reads: Obstacles are opportunities in disguise. Embrace them to break through to greatness.

Have you ever heard a story of a girl who chased her dreams, until they became her reality? That’s my daughter, Muskan Garg.

This is our #OpenBooks story. I’m Neena Garg, Muskan’s mother. My daughter is a powerlifter who represents India, and she has an intellectual disability. In a world where people weigh the worth of an individual based on their abilities, my daughter blazed new paths in the pursuit of her dreams. With an unmatched zest for life and passion for sport, she set her mind towards one goal—becoming a powerlifter. Today, I’m so proud that she’s not only achieved her dream of competing in powerlifting, but she is also the pride of both our family and country.

Defying the odds

“Why are you wasting so much time and money on a girl child?” “How will you raise a child with an intellectual disability? Just give her away!”

People with intellectual disabilities often go through multiple hardships. When Muskan was growing up, I heard things that pierced right through my heart. “Why are you wasting so much time and money on a girl child?” “How will you raise a child with an intellectual disability? Just give her away!” Every unkind remark, every thoughtless question, every belittling opinion pushed me towards working even harder to prove them wrong. None of these people could shake my belief in my daughter’s potential, I knew she was born to achieve great things!

I went through a painful separation from my husband due to Muskan’s condition. But I’m a mother, and if the father of my child refuses to take responsibility, I will. Even if no one believes in my daughter, I will. I’ll defy all odds to see her shine.

Transformation through purpose

Muskan joined Special Olympics Bharat in 2016, and there has been no looking back ever since! Her involvement in sports has not only given her a sense of purpose and pride, but also taught her valuable life skills. From being an extremely dependent child who used to cling to me, I saw her live independently for weeks, even months, when she was required to attend sports tournaments. She’s now a more confident, self-reliant, and independent young woman.

Muskan’s passion for sports has led her to win numerous medals and accolades for the country. While powerlifting has been her main focus, she also loved participating in other sporting activities like ice skating and floorball. Till date, the most memorable moment of her triumph has been receiving a trophy from Mary Kom, a well-known name in our country and a woman the entire nation looks up to!

She participated in Special Olympics Abu Dhabi World Games held in 2019, with more than 7,000 athletes from across the globe and brought national pride by winning a gold and three silvers. Watching her achieve this milestone made my eyes well up with tears of pride and joy. When I went to receive her from the airport, I felt overwhelming joy. I felt like I was in a movie, being recognised as the mother of a star that the nation is proud of!

A bright future ahead

Magazine pages framed and hung on a wall.

Muskan’s own grit, resilience and determination as well as the dedicated support networks of family and coaches have helped fuel her sporting dreams. She continues to dream of winning more medals for her country and having a future in the field of sports.

She is a shining example of what can be achieved with hard work and dedication and is a testament to the potential that exists within all of us, regardless of our abilities. Muskan’s achievements serve as an inspiration to all of us to chase our dreams and never give up, no matter what challenges we may face along the way.

My message to fellow parents is simple—learn to recognise the limitless potential of our little ones, support them in their dreams and watch them make you proud. I’m proud of my star. And through our story, I hope you too, can share your #OpenBooks stories to inspire, move and champion for greater inclusion in our communities.

Text read: Muskan Garg, Special Olympics Athlete since 2016.

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