“I don’t like using the term ‘physically challenged’. I’d like to think that human beings are capable of doing anything that they want if only they can train their minds well enough.” – Retired Indian Army Major Devender Pal Singh, India’s first marathon amputee runner.
Major Devender Pal Singh was initially “declared dead” in an army hospital in July 1999 after a Pakistani mortar exploded just a meter away from him during the Kargil War. Fortunately, an anaesthetist took a look at his condition and mercifully managed to revive him, only to be told three days later that his right leg would be amputated below his knee because gangrene had set in.
If all this would have broken another person, it only helped strengthen Devender’s will to live. “I saw this as a chance to find out how a person who does not have the full use of limbs, goes through life. I would never get another chance to learn, and I wanted to make the best use of it,” says Devender.
Known as the “Indian blade runner,” he’s been running marathons for 16 years now and he wishes to make a mark in international tournaments, such as the Paralympics.
His story exemplifies to the fullest all that is good about the human spirit—a bullish grit and determination, a capability to never give up and always keep going, no matter what, delving into the extraordinary recesses of willpower.
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