BENGALURU: “Ever since I was a boy, I always challenged myself when someone said I could not do something. This is what motivated me till the finish line,” said India’s blade runner, Subedar Anandan G from the Madras Engineering Group and Centre, Bengaluru.
Anandan has made it through the preliminary qualifying round --The Handisport Open, Paris 2019 -- winning gold in the 200-metre event. This is a precursor to the final trials in May 2020, which if cleared, will secure a place for him to participate in the 2020 Tokyo paralympic.
When asked what he thought about as he ran, he said that it was the voice of his neighbours calling him a madman, as he tried running with the help of a wooden leg. “The same people posed with me for pictures after subsequent events and victories,” he said with a smile. He was felicitated on Saturday at the centre for his performance at the Seventh World Military Games held recently at Wuhan, China where he won golds in the 100, 200, and 400- metre events; and now looks forward to participating in the Tokyo Paralympic Games next year.
Pistorius was an inspiration
Anandan lost his leg in 2008 when he stepped on a land mine during his posting in the Maogaon sector. He found it difficult to come to terms with being an amputee. It was then that he heard about Oscar Pistorius, the South African sprinter who lost both his legs. “There was no one in India who emulated him. If he could run without both his legs, why couldn’t I?” Anandan asked.
The biggest challenge after recovery was to inform his parents. “I began to recover in four months. However, it was only after six months that I mustered the courage to go back home and convince my parents that it was an infection that caused me to lose my leg. They refused to let me go back saying I had dedicated my leg to the nation. But I was able to convince them,” he said.
Inspiration to join the Army
“It was in school, when we were requested to contribute to the welfare of those effected by the Kargil conflict in 1999 that I decided to join the armed forces. I could not let go of my dream,” he said. “I began running after my accident. Several onlookers said I could not do it. Some humiliated me and others called me mad. But I still persisted,” Anandan said narrating his experiences in his hometown Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu.
There was also a lot of stigma attached to marrying an amputee. Anandan said that he broke that stigma when he found the love of his life in 2013, and is now a father of twins.
In 2013, he tried running again at the Senior Para National Athletic Championships, where he ran 100m in 13.8 seconds. “100 metres was the maximum one could run with a wooden leg, so I had to switch to something more fitting. This is when the armed forces, particularly the MEG and Centre, supported me by providing me a with a prosthetic blade from Delhi and taking care of my practice and diet, and did not confine me to a desk job,” he said.
He went on to run for the troupe in various events, the recent being three golds at the 7th Military World Games held at Wuhan China in October 18-27.