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Disabled torch bearers show Olympic spirit

DNIS News Network - Delhi was the scene for a great celebration on June 10 as the Olympic Flame passed through the city on its global relay to herald the 2004 Olympics to be held in Athens this summer.

The 33 km journey through Delhi was aided by 105 torch bearers. There were many famous sports stars and actors and actresses, but there were also some lesser-known but equally admirable persons who had the honour of carrying the Olympic Flame. Of these, perhaps the most notable were wheelchair user Aslam Amin, partially sighted athlete Ravinder Singh Nagar and mentally challenged Arja.

Amin lost his legs as a young boy but did not let that put an end to his ambitions. With the help of a scholarship from NCPEDP he gained his masters in computing and went on to become a computer consultant. He was given the option of holding the torch with one hand and wheeling himself along with the other or of being pushed and he chose the latter to ensure he did not drop the flame. That had the added benefit of leaving one hand free to wave to the crowds lining the route.

For Singh, who came fourth in the 800 m at the World Championship Games for the Blind, the 400m run came easy. The cheering crowd and the feel of the torch in his hand was an entirely new experience though "I wished I could keep on running," he said after completing his section of the relay.

Arja, a gold medallist in the Special Olympics, was pleased to be involved, even if he did not fully understand the significance of his role. "I have to hold the torch and run as fast as I can," he said. He was cheered on by friends from the Asha Kiran home for the mentally challenged and by officials from the Special Olympics.