Mumbai : One of the most inspiring aspects of the Mumbai marathon is the spirit of the disabled. Hundreds participated this year also in the marathon with many being wheeled in and others toiling through the run on their crutches.
The smile on the faces of the participants emitted an unalloyed message of undying spirit and enthusiasm.
Forty seven-year old Satyaprakash Tiwari lost his legs in a train accident when he was just 16. He was a cricketer and had lost all hope after the accident.
“But marathons like this one rekindle hope in people like me that we can be sportsmen, too. We run for our happiness,” said Tiwari.
He started running three years after he lost his legs. “I had to, otherwise the sportsman inside me would have died. Even if I am on wheel chair, it does not matter. I run, I win and I take pride in the achievement,” said Tiwari, who has been participating in the marathon for a decade now.
Today, he has 16 international and 75 national medals in his kitty. His goal is to get a national award and rekindle the spirit in all disabled sportsmen. He also wants to fight for their rights.
His friend Rajaram Ghag, who has polio in both legs since he was two, also participated in the event. “I am an international swimmer and both of us coax each other whenever there are lows in our lives,” said Ghag.
Another participant whom the crowd eagerly awaits is Angad Duggal (27). “You are a lesson in how to live life,” said the cheering crowd lustily when it sighted Duggal.
Angad negotiated the 2.4-km race from CST Station to Churchgate Station and back. His family accompanied him and kept a chair handy for him to rest in between.
“Angad, despite multiple disabilities, has not allowed it to be a stumbling block,” said his sister.
People call him the indomitable ‘spirit of Mumbai’. He has been participating in the Mumbai Marathon for ten years now. “It is an achievement for him. He loves to hear the cheers. He feels happy about it,” said his sister, while Angad gave a coy smile.
Another such achiever is 47-year old Ryan Mertos, who had met with an accident four years back, which had paralyzed his left leg. But it did not crush his spirit.
“I met with a road accident four year back. After two years of being confined to bed, I realized that I could not remain a couch potato. I wanted to get back to being my former self. So, I started walking. Now, I walk four hours daily and have been coming for the marathon for the last two years. This crowd feels like my family, inspiring me throughout,” said Mertos. 28- year-old Preity Sawant, who has a genetic disorder since birth, has spent her life cooped up in a wheel chair.
“I am a disabled person and I cannot move freely in the city, as there are no special arrangements for us. This city does not consider us a part of the crowd. There are no sliding ramps on the platforms. We depend on our family members to move around,” said Preity.
She carried with her the message of making the city disabled friendly.
Swati Jha and Iram Siddiqui