by Derek Franklin
With the students divided into four teams, red, blue, green and yellow, the two-day competition was the culmination of several weeks of qualifying heats in a variety of sports; track & field athletics, swimming, wheelchair basketball, volleyball, sitting volleyball and takraw.
The school has a long and good tradition of producing athletes who have gone on to compete at national and international level, with several former students representing Thailand at the London 2015 Paralympics.
But for many of the current students this recent competition was the first time they have ever participated in any type of sporting activity. Living in the rural areas of the country there are little or no opportunities of a person with a disability finding any kind of sport they can participate in. But once they are at the school in Pattaya every student is encouraged to find a sport they enjoy.
Apart from the sports in this year’s Mahathai Games, the school also provides equipment for wheelchair fencing, petanque, wheelchair tennis, archery and pistol shooting, though for shooting students are transported to a professional shooting range.
The next Paralympic Games will be in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and the school is hoping to discover a sporting talent who can represent not only Thailand at the Games, but also Pattaya and the vocational school.
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