Abu Dhabi: Sister Rani Jo from Holy Cross Convent in Kottayam, in the south Indian state of Kerala, is living her dream at the ongoing Special Olympics World Games.
Having been deprived from pursuing a career in sports at school, she chose to make the most of it once she became a nun after 12th grade.
“My first posting as nun was in Tamil Nadu and along with it I decided to learn physiotherapy and that’s when I came in touch with special kids,” she said.
“It didn’t take me long to decide that I want to do something for them, so I quit my job and went for training in Bengaluru to get a better view on how to deal with determined people,” added the 49-year-old, who is now a coach for the Indian contingent specialising in four sports — cycling, volleyball, table tennis and roller skating. So far her athletes have 10 gold, 13 silver and 19 bronze medals across these events.
“I decided to start a school for these kids with determination in my hometown. It is difficult to educate them but they are good in other activities and sports is one of them.
“Since sports was my passion I tried to help them through that, and they responded well and improved.
“My physiotherapy background helped me to understand sport and improve the physical condition of the kids,” said sister Jo, who now has over 100 kids with determination in her school alone.
It was the participation of her schoolchildren at the national games in Andhra Pradesh that paved the way for her taking up a coaching role at national level.
“I went through the coaches training programme and kept gaining knowledge on various games,” she said. “I would then return and train kids in Kerala as per the guidelines. I was later appointed to take charge of the entire state by the national authority,” added the veteran of three World Games starting with Athens in 2011.
So far India have 70 gold, 93 silvers and 92 bronze at the Games and are top of the standings.
“India has already done phenomenally well at this Games, we might even end up finishing in the top three in the medals standings but we can still improve. We need to have a hostel on a grand scale for these kids where they can stay and train together. Giving a job to the medal winners will also be of great help,” she added.