Express press service
CHENNAI: When the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), Kilpauk won the runners-up trophy at the 17th Tamil Nadu State Senior Para-Athletics Championship 2022, Sathish*’s heart swelled with pride. He is one of six IMH inmates who together won six medals at the championship organized by Tamil Nadu Paralympic Sports Association in Melakottaiyur from March 4-6.
Sathish, a silver medalist in the shot put, said the training he received from the institute has lifted his spirits like never before and he now feels happier. Most of the other participants, including the 62-year-old inmate who won gold in the 400 meters, share Sathish’s experience with the athletic training they received.
According to sources, the IMH started training its inmates for the para-athletics event in February. It seems to have had a healing effect on many participants. “Sport improves the condition of prisoners; even the most aggressive became friendlier, said J Sangeetha, additional resident physician, IMH. “Thirteen candidates – eight men and five women – were selected in February for the championship,” Sangeetha said. “At first we didn’t know how it would turn out, but then we got a lot of sponsors – from staff to NGOs. They sponsored sports tracks, T-shirts and other items,” said Dr. P Poorna Chandrika, Director of IMH.
“It was difficult before, but now we mingle with the other inmates and take part in the training. It makes me happy. We are taught daily exercises and meditation,” said another inmate who practiced shot put on the institute’s renovated grounds. The selected candidates received training for three hours a day. They received enough fluids throughout the sessions to keep them hydrated, Sangeetha said, adding that the IMH is currently selecting and preparing six inmates for the Special Olympics next year.