As we reflect on the Athens experience, what remains vivid in our minds are these momentous displays of pure tenacity and strength. Here is one such moment as told by my colleague, Pamella Odhner, Director of Organizational Development at Special Olympics Asia Pacific:

“Today I spent time watching the badminton competitions. If you’ve ever watched competitive badminton, you’ll agree it is swift and requires a lot of strategy and precision.  One doubles match in particular between the men’s teams of India and Great Britain drew my attention.  It was incredibly exciting and very skillfully played.  India was winning, 11-7.

However, at a certain point one of the Indian players, Rohan Sonawane from Maharastra,
obviously began feeling poorly. He shrugged it off and played on.  Then, just as the stakes were getting high, he reluctantly asked for a time out and eventually sat down on the court. He then lay down. Then he began to shake. He then had an epileptic seizure as he lay there on the court.  His coaches were by his side, comforting him all the time, but giving him his space and dignity. His doubles partner and team mates were there supporting him, encouraging him, empathizing with him every moment.

The medics were called in and provided assistance, but when the seizure stopped, Rohan sat up. Then he stood on his own. Then he insisted: “Play on!”.  To their credit, the medics insisted on completing a few tests to ensure he was fit, but as soon as they were done the athlete was back on the court, finishing his match.  India eventually won the match.

So I ask, how many of us can say we face this type of challenge in our lives, and then play on?  Sure, we may fall or get injured when playing and then get up, but to have a full seizure and then shrug it off?

What was so clear was that the episode was really just another common adversity in this athlete’s life. Something faced regularly. Something viewed as par for the course.

To me, this athlete was the epitome of what it means to “…be brave in the attempt” and begs the question, “What more can I learn from someone like him if I only listen and open my mind?”

If we took a moment from our woes to focus on the determination in the face of great odds, the resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable barriers, and the pure joy in the sense of accomplishment that resounds with these athletes, maybe we could learn from them and find a common ground in which to “play on” in our own lives.”

Read on for India’s news coverage on Rohan.

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