HYDERABAD: For anyone whose leg is amputated, life is generally resigned to fate. But not for Challa Pavan Kumar who fought adversity and turned his disability into a success story. Inspired by the now controversial South African runner Oscar Pistorius, the 27-year-old has taken up athletics as his career and is among the first blade runners in the country.
Two years into the sport, Pavan Kumar has made a mark. Among a dozen odd athletes training under N Ramesh at the Gachibowli Stadium athletics track, Pavan is unmindful of his disability and trains as hard as any normal athlete does. He dreamt of becoming a pilot. But, in a freak accident ten years ago, a lorry, coming from the wrong side ran over his right leg.
“Call it fate. It was one dreadful day. Before I realised what had happened, I was writhing in pain. Then I got the shock of my life as my right leg had to be amputated. All my dreams lay tattered. I had an ambition to become a pilot but God has scripted my life differently. I was lost when I heard people say what I could without a leg. It was a painful experience. It took a few before I realised that I had to forget this bad dream and look at a new career,” shares Pavan.
Currently, with prosthesis leg, he graduated as a mechanical engineer and then started taking interest in film editing as his father Srinivas was a dubbing engineer.
“Even as I was into the film line, one day I saw the blade runner Pistorius. I was amazed and also fascinated. I thought, if he can do it, why not me? That was in 2013. I began to watch videos – I was very keen to be a part of the process – from wearing artificial limbs, to training. I was naturally apprehensive before I took a decision to wear an artificial limb and make a career in athletics,’’ admits Pavan It was a painful and cumbersome process.
“Artificial limb technology was new in the country. I needed to be very careful and also patient at the same time. Forget about running, I had great difficulty to stand up. I fell down and it hurt a lot. I also needed to strike a balance between my normal leg and the artificial one. I endured the pain but I was determined to fight the hardship,” shares Pavan.
He did not lose hope. “I started with 16 seconds in 100 metres initially and gradually did more,” he says and adds that today, the pain was worth it.
“Today people see me running with the artificial limb and express their happiness,’’ he beams.
Though Pavan did not receive a lot of encouragement for the para events, he concentrated on running with other athletes.
He found Ramesh the ideal coach to push his dreams further. In fact, his first venture was in the Telangana Open Athletics Meet recently where he clocked 13.7 seconds. “It was a different feeling. My coach Ramesh simply told me that winning was not important but participation is. This motivated me to train harder. I want to prove that disability is all in the mind. May be, my feats could inspire other amputees,’’ feels Pavan.
Pavan focused on 100 and 200 metres. He participated in the para China Open Athletic championship at Beijing this year in April and returned with a silver (100 metres) and a bronze (200 metres) medals. “It was a different experience and was my first international outing. I was thrilled to win medals. This has motivated me to approach the sport more seriously,’’ he shares.
Pavan is a special athlete says coach Ramesh.
“I admire his courage. I told him to run like an ordinary athlete. I have changed his technique. He has shown improvement within a year. I’m sure there could be more success in future,’’ he adds.