#DelhiMoves Fitness

This NGO encourages PWD athletes

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Head out to support a half marathon by The Challenging Ones, whic is open to people in wheelchairs and on prosthetic limbs

This weekend will see a chip-timed inclusive half-marathon in Delhi. The One Race SuperSikh Run is competitive for everyone across racing distance and physical ability. This means that those who have signed up for the One Race Sahas category (for those in wheelchairs, with prosthetic limbs, or anyone who falls in the “persons with disabilities — PWD” category) can compete for a medal and a timing certificate in distances of 5.5k, 10k and 21k.

This is rare in India. The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon for instance, does have a ‘Champions with Disability’ category, but the run is not timed, and it’s about participation rather than competition. It’s not the same abroad: The Chicago Marathon, for instance, has an Athletes With Disabilities (AWD) programme, with clear qualification criteria, open to people over 16.

Rajiv Virat, the race director for One Race Sahas, is a wheelchair athlete himself, and feels the diffidence here “is probably a lack of awareness or knowledge of what a PWD can and can’t do. When racing events fail to recognise PWDs as competitors, “I’ve run those events by signing up in the general category to show that we can compete under same conditions, on the same track, covering the same distance,” says Major D. P. Singh, a Kargil war veteran who lost a part of his right leg to shrapnel injuries.

Popularly known as India’s Blade Runner, Singh has run 26 half marathons using a prosthetic limb. In 2011, he started the NGO, The Challenging Ones (TCO) that has partnered with One Race SuperSikh Run to support runners participating in the ‘Sahas’ category. For this race, Virat says, “Aid stations catering to the specific needs of PWDs have been created.” For instance those who use prosthetic limbs are susceptible to chafing, and those on wheelchairs may need technical support for their equipment.

The Challenging Ones motivates other amputees to overcome the mindset of loss through sports and peer support groups. “The idea behind TCO is to inculcate a winning attitude using sports. We help people with disabilities rediscover and expand the potential of their ability by playing a sport,” says Singh. Running is the easiest sport to get started in, as it requires no additional gear.

Today, he says TCO supports over 2,000 individuals. They have a network on Facebook and have regional WhatsApp groups. Athletes get access to training plans, boot camps and peer-based support. “TCO is not a charity organisation that donates goods. We work to change an individual’s attitude to make them independent and fearless,” he says.

On December 8; start at Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib near Parliament House, 5:30 a.m.; connect with TCO Facebook.com/TheChallengingOnes

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 3:21:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fitness/this-ngo-encourages-pwd-athletes/article30147410.ece

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