On 1 February 2020, 300 remarkable athletes from 20 different countries gathered in Åre and Östersund for the Special Olympics Sweden Invitational Games. Many of them were competing internationally for the very first time. Among the first timers was short track speed skater Rachna from Dehli who made up half of the two-person team representing Special Olympics Bharat, both only 14 years of age. Her male teammate, Tanshu, was the first to win gold but soon it was Rachna’s turn to shine. Despite competing on ice hockey skates at a track event, she succeeded in taking home the silver medal.
Rachna has been skating for years and she has competed nationally several times. Her father played a major role in helping her prepare for the Invitational Games, and also supports her in training for her other sport—swimming, for which she competes at national level. “Last year I won a silver medal!” she affirmed proudly.
After the Invitational Games, Rachna plans to continue training throughout the year, to prepare for the next Special Olympics World Winter Games. There are only six provinces in India with cold enough temperatures for natural ice to occur, but there are training facilities available even during the heat of the Indian summer.
Rachna enjoyed her time in Sweden. She easily acclimatised to her new surroundings and felt that she was very well looked after. She especially enjoyed the fitness session organised during the host town visits prior to the beginning of the competition. Despite the lack of spiciness in the local Swedish food, Rachna was very pleased that the local organisers made sure to secure plant-based meals for her and her teammate!