Namita Kumari, Sinki and Deepa are on cloud nine. The trio ended up winning the top three positions in the massive Salwan Marathon, which was started in 1995 by Inder Dutt Salwan, a member of the Salwan Education Trust. The girls emerged victorious in the 4.5 km marathon, in the visually-impaired category. The trio is from R.V.A.K Senior Secondary School, Vikaspuri."We'd practice everyday in the morning. No cheating," the winner Namita tells Catch. The first and second runners-up - Sinki and Deepa - chip in. "Yes, yes. We practice everyday. Sometime in the zero period, sometimes during assembly. We've been practicing for more than a month," they say.
Their physical education teacher, Mamata Yadav, is proud. With reason.
On Sunday morning, over 52,000 children gathered in smoggy Delhi's green cantonment to participate in the world's largest marathon of school students. About 2,800 visually impaired and differently-abled children participated in the special race. The marathon witnessed participation from various schools across India, including children from regions such as North-East, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Indian Olympians - boxer Shiva Thapa and national record holder in shotput Manpreet Kaur - also participated in the event.Also Read: Ban homework! Spanish parents go on strike for an entire month
Despite the smog, pollution and poor visibility, the sheer number of children walking and running on the ground was mind-boggling. Catch spoke to some teachers who said that dropping out of a such a large scale event did not make sense, despite the pollution.
"We did consider using a pollution mask for children of our school and even went ahead to arrange it," says Yadav. "But we were scared for the safety of our visually impaired children. When each girl is wearing the same mask, it would be difficult for teachers to differentiate between them. And accidents may occur, because they (children) could feel suffocated," she added.