(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) –After receiving the prestigious Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar award — the highest honour for a citizen below 18 years in the country — earlier this year, Jiya Rai, a 13-year-old autistic swimmer successfully swam across the Palk Strait starting from Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka to Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu in 13 hours.
The swimmer was received by Tamil Nadu Director General of Police C Sylendra Babu and a large number of people at Dhanushkodi, reported news agency ANI. Ramanathapuram SP E Karthik and Municipal vice-chairman Dhakshinamoorthy felicitated the swimmer with shawls.
Jiya joined a select band of swimmers — Kutraleeswaran (1994), R Jai Jaswanth (2019), USA’s Edi Hu (2020), Shyamala Koli (2021) — are other swimmers who swam from Sri Lanka to India.
Jiya had taken up the swimming expedition to create awareness about autism. Hailing from Mumbai, Jiya has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) but that didn’t stop her from achieving several feats in swimming. Earlier, Jiya has reportedly set a world record by swimming from Worli sea link in Bandra to Gateway of India in just 8 hours and 40 minutes.