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Meet Himanshu Kumar, India's blade runner

Next month, a Delhi-based para-athlete will attempt to cycle from Mumbai to Delhi on one leg. Here's his story

On January 31, 23-year-old Himanshu Kumar will cycle from Mumbai through Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Ajmer and Jaipur before finally hitting Gurgaon, after covering 1,500 km over 15 days. However, his self-titled cyclothon is with a difference. The Delhi-based para-athlete, who had his left leg amputated after a road accident in 2008, will take on the journey supported by a prosthetic blade.

Also read: German sprinter and Paralympic Games gold medalist Heinrich Popow visited Mumbai earlier this December

Himanshu Kumar during a practice session in Delhi
Himanshu Kumar during a practice session in Delhi

"I have started practising for the event, and have touched 101 km in seven hours. In the cyclothon, I will cover 100 km per day. By completing this marathon ride, I want to raise funds for the physically challenged and provide them with high-tech prosthetics," says Kumar, who has taken the crowdfunding route through Ketto.org. While the goal is to raise '2.5 lakh, he has gathered 78 backers and close to '1.5 lakh already. The contributions will help him fund his cycling gear, nutritional needs, cover boarding and lodging expenses, plus the cost of a support vehicle with three members to accompany him. "The biggest challenge is dealing with injuries that will occur to my amputated leg. This will put more pressure on my functioning leg," shares Kumar, who began cycling about a year ago, and has participated in cycling events in and around Delhi.

Kumar had to undergo a year of treatment and rehabilitation where he learnt to walk with an artificial limb. Though a certified graphics animator for television, Kumar shunned a cosy office job to work as a sports advisor at Decathlon India. "I took it up to gain work experience but the job doesn’t sustain me financially to participate in long-distance running events," informs Kumar, who took up marathon running as his primary occupation since 2011.

Last year, he conceived a self-sustained running event, titled Gritathlon, between Agra and New Delhi, covering 225 km in 21 days. "The conditions were tough on the highway due to heat, pollution and vehicular movement. I also encountered people who were inquisitive about my blade," recalls Kumar, who also participated in the Satara Hill Marathon in 2013.

He adds, "Through these events, I wish to motivate amputees to look beyond their accidents, helping them achieve their personal best." Kumar has also set up a welfare foundation for physically challenged people who have discovered their love for sport.

Log on to: www.ketto.org

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