Toronto, July 27 (IANS) Most of the athletes who participated in the Pan Am Games in Toronto that concluded on July 26 have thanked a spiritual leader of Indian-descent for counselling which helped them bring laurels to their respective countries, media reported on Monday.
Zenji Nio spent a few weeks at the athletes’ village, providing counselling and guidance to the sportspersons.
Most of the athletes now insist that without Nio’s help, they would not have won a medal, National Post newspaper reported.
Mexican gymnast Dafne Navarro said she was grappling with insecurities about her jump on the trampoline until she worked with Nio. Navarro later won a silver medal.
The Argentinian women’s handball team had never qualified for the Olympic games until they worked with Nio in Toronto. They, too, won a silver medal, along with that long-sought-after Olympic berth.
“Working with Zen has been a revelation. I have learned that medals with no soul, have no value. Appreciation and gratitude are the way to grow in life,” Mexican windsurfer Demita Vega was quoted as saying.
As per Olympic guidelines, the Pan Am organising committee was required to provide a multi-faith centre in the athletes’ village.
It was also given the task to find sports chaplains who can volunteer to work with every member of the delegation seeking religious or spiritual counselling.
“The host committee had created a team of people who did extensive research into who were the major faith leaders and the people who were best qualified,” Nio was quoted as saying.
“We were all called in and the organisers invited me to represent Buddhism based on my qualifications.”
Nio is of Indian descent and has travelled the world studying Buddhist techniques. His practice combines Eastern philosophy with Western motivation. In addition to being a spiritual leader, over the years Nio has also given motivational speeches.