When Pankaj Soni enrolled for coaching in floorball 18 months ago, little did he know that he would make history some day. A swimming and netball enthusiast, he had never taken floorball seriously before. Today, he takes immense pride in flashing the gold medal that he bagged for India at the Special Olympics World Winter Games. The event was held in Austria from March 14 -24.
A resident of Sector 17-A, Pankaj belongs to a middle-class family and is a student of Class 12 at DAV Public School, Sector 10-A, Gurgaon.
Though he struck gold in his maiden foray into the global event, Pankaj still considers himself a novice who is still trying to master the intricacies of the sport. He has already set sights on doing an encore in the World Championship in 2019.
The Special Olympics World Games is an international sporting competition for athletes with disabilities. It is organised by Special Olympics. India finished its campaign at the Games with a total of 73 medals, which included 37 gold medals, 10 silvers and 26 bronze.
“I am delighted to have won gold for India. I am thankful to the DLF Foundation for providing consistent support without which it would not have been possible to accomplish the feat. I was injured, but worked hard to make a successful comeback. I put in my all to help my team win,” Pankaj Soni said.
Floorball, which originated in Sweden, is a variation of hockey, played indoors on a rink instead of a field. Each team comprises five players. The rules are similar to ice hockey, with the rink enclosed by boards on all sides. The matches are played over three twenty-minute periods. The sport is fast gaining popularity in India.
“The DLF Foundation has made athletes with disabilities more confident to pursue their goals in life,” Virender Kumar, area director, Special Olympics Bharat, a National Sports Federation authorised to conduct Special Olympics programmes in India.