The Paralympic Games, held in the same years as the Olympic Games, are the second largest sporting event in the world today, the first largest being the Olympic Games. The London 2012 Paralympic Games were held from 29 August to 9 September and featured 20 different sports with as many as 4,200 athletes from 150 nations taking part. India was represented by 10 athletes.
Two hundred seventy nine Gold, 24 Silver and 5 Bronze medals won in National and International events. No wonder Malathi Krishnamurthy Holla is known as the Champion of Champions. No wonder she is idolised by those who know that she is bound to a wheelchair, but despite being paralysed from the waist down, has won international renown as a para athelete and a person with an indomitable spirit. “I feel proud, “ says Malathi. “I feel disability is God’s gift. If I was born normal I would have ended up getting married, doing the daily chores and raising a family. But now I get to do something different. After undergoing 32 surgeries, I feel I am stronger. All human beings are disabled. It’s just that our disability is seen. Every single human being is talented and one must recognise that talent. God has created us this way because he wants us to excel against odds. He wants us to be the source of motivation to other people. We must never complain. Instead we must set a goal for ourselves and show the world what we are capable of. Never feel inferior. Inferiority is the biggest disability”.
Even though she’s above 50 years of age now, she’s still the fastest female Indian athlete in a wheelchair. Conferred with the prestigious Arjuna, Ekalavya, Padma Shri awards and many others, she has been a champion in her category taking part in discus throw, shotput, 100 and 200 m races. Incidentally, she participated in most of the national and international events – winning over 300 medals in an astonishing scintillating career —in a rented wheelchair!
Malathi was born on July 6, 1958 in Bangalore. Polio hit her at the age of 1, and her entire body got paralysed. After several electric shock treatments she started regaining strength in the upper part of the body, but unfortunately her lower part below the waist remained without strength. Despite this, she refused to accept defeat and chose sports to overcome this physical disability and went on to become the most inspiring sports personalities of modern times. She represented India in the Paralympics held in South Korea, Barcelona, Athens and Beijing and at other national and international meets, winning an amazing number of medals. Her never say die attitude has been a huge inspiration and motivation to many other contemporary sportspersons and people from other walks of life.
She also runs a charitable trust named Mathru Foundation in which children with various disabilities and whose parents are not capable of providing medical treatment to them are given shelter and treatment. “We have disabled children from rural areas who are not just getting their basic education but are also getting trained in sports. Education I feel is a must for every disabled person”. In her biography, “A Different Spirit,” her fights against all odds have been illustrated, where she says that “As I grew up I realised that you need legs to run and wings to fly. I was hurt. But I didn’t give up. I knew, one day, I would run.”She is truly an inspiration for the youth of India.
You can capture the complete story of this inspiring woman in her biography, ” A Different Spirit”, published by Inspired Indian Foundation. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Paralympics Vision
The Paralympic Games are the second largest sporting event in the world today, the first largest being the Olympic Games. Summer and Winter editions are held in the same years as the Olympic Games. The first Summer Paralympic Games were held in Rome, Italy, in 1960 and involved 400 athletes from 23 countries. The first Winter Paralympic Games was held in Sweden, in 1976 in which 12 countries participated. The inspiring vision for the Paralympics Games was to boost the self confidence and motivate persons who are physically disabled. Paralympic Games include five major classifications of athletes: persons with visual impairments, persons with physical disabilities, amputee athletes, people with cerebral palsy, people with spinal cord injuries and Les Autres – athletes with a physical disability that are not included in the above categories. Dr.Ludwig Guttman of England also known as the ‘Father of Sport for people with Disabilities’ was the pioneer of the Paralympics. It was his dream which resulted in such a big sporting event in the world. According to him “Sports in the lives of athletes with disabilities extends far beyond its rehabilitative benefits.”
Fastest Man On No Legs
Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius (born 22 November 1986), the famous Olympian and Paralympian, is a South African sprint runner. Known as the “Blade Runner” and “the fastest man on no legs”, Pistorius, who has a double below-knee amputation, is the world record holder for T44 in the 100, 200 and 400 metres events and runs with the aid of Cheetah Flex-Foot carbon fibre transtibial artificial limbs by Össur. In 2007, Pistorius took part in his first international competitions for able-bodied athletes. In 2011, he became the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal although he was not selected for the final. At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Pistorius became the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics when he entered the men’s 400 metres race and was part of South Africa’s 4 × 400 metres relay team.