Saturday, June 20, 2015

The inspiring story of India's blade runner : Major D.P Singh - The Bravest among Brave Soldiers of India

Some write ups on this soldier with indomitable spirit, contributed from various sources

He was blown apart by a mortar and left for dead on a Kargil battlefield. Now, he’s running marathons

Major D.P. Singh runs in the Delhi Marathon with the Indian flag.

A mass of bleeding tissue, broken bones and intestines ripped out. That was Major Devender Pal Singh when fellow soldiers carried him to the field hospital. A mortar bomb had landed close to him on a Himalayan battlefield, during the 1999 Kargil War on the India-Pakistan border. The army surgeon declared him dead on arrival and sent his wrecked body to a makeshift mortuary. But 25-year-old Major Singh was not ready to die.

The story of how he beat death sounds incredible when you see him today, full of vitality. Now known as the ‘Indian Blade Runner’, he has been running marathons for 16 years.

It was at the mortuary on the mountains that another doctor from the army hospital spotted life in him. The chances of survival for anybody caught within eight yards of a mortar bomb are close to nil. He was embedded with shrapnels, Wafer thin, bedridden and disabled, the Major drew upon the survival instincts and courage that had spurred him to dive to the ground when the bomb landed about a yard and a half from him. Quick thinking had saved his life, but he would now have to learn to live anew.

“This was the start of my second life,” he told YourStory on the sidelines of the India Inclusion Summit in Bangalore. So what if life would never be the same again? It never is anyway. He decided not to think of his battered body as a disability. He looked upon it as a challenge, instead.

He stayed in hospital for almost a year. Hardly anyone believed he would ever walk again. But he thought, “Why just walk? I want to run.”

Major DP Singh’s transformation into the Indian Blade Runner didn’t happen overnight. He was never a runner before the amputation. But, “I wanted to run to inspire myself to go beyond my injuries,” as told in YourStory.

Running with his prosthetic leg wasn’t just hard, it was excruciatingly painful. “I refused to crawl. Every time I fell, I took it as a test of perseverance. That way, it is easier to try again,” he recollected. His first prosthetic limb was better suited for sprints than long distance running. Nevertheless, however agonising it was, the Major was already running marathons when prosthetics specialists at Hanger Clinic in Oklahoma City chanced upon a video clip of him. They invited him over to fit him with a better prosthetic that allowed him the greater flexibility needed for long distance running.

Today, at 39, the Indian Blade Runner has run close to 20 marathons. When he runs, he doesn’t hide his artificial leg. Onlookers often drop their jaws and stare. That doesn’t bother him.

He is also a motivational speaker, inspiring amputees across India. He manages a support group called The Challenging Ones.

“I started this support group to inspire others in a similar predicament. Sports can help build confidence and help overcome the disability,” he said. “People like me are generally called physically challenged. But I believe we are ‘challengers’. The trauma of losing a part of your body is huge. Your family and friends cannot imagine life after amputation. The initial stage where the person realises that s/he has lost a limb is the most difficult. Peer support is crucial.”

His aim is to help amputees find life again. “Make the Challengers break all shackles of dependency and overcome fears of lack of mobility to live as they did earlier. There is no limit,” he says.

This Republic Day, YourStory salutes his indomitable spirit. Check-out his interview with YourStory below.

Journey from ICU to marathon- Major D.P. Singh 
(Delhi marathon Runner)

After completing my Commando course with an injured knee in 1998, I was on leave to undergo knee surgery for ACL tear. In Mar 99, I joined unit and straight away went on PP6 in Munawar Tawi area of 10 Div. I was still undergoing physiotherapy which I could never complete for the prescribed duration courtesy Op Vijay.

It started in the month of May and things got very hot in 10 Div area too. On the fateful day of 15th July 99, I came under firing of mortar and got severely injured. Profusely bleeding all over the body when I reached hospital I was declared dead by the surgical specialist. As the luck would have another doctor, Anesthetic, was present there at that moment, who had a look at me and could revive me.

Since then, till Nov 2009, it took me ten full years to regain my ability back for which I was famous among my coursemates in IMA as I use to be the first one to sleep in the outdoor classes and come back in first five, when sent on round the temple to sit and relax while others were still running.

It all started with my craze of going for Rally sports. During my army days also I was passionate about rally sports but could never get chance to explore that area much as I was denied entry into such adventures owing to my medical condition. Once out, I began to explore it more, however as its an expensive sport, I needed money and sponsors. It was the hunt for sponsors which forced me to prove my worth as an individual first, as whomsoever I met in this regard, frowned on me because of my physical status. During that period I came across the advertisement of Airtel Delhi Half Marathon to be held in Nov 09 and I enrolled for it.

Month of October in Delhi is neither cold nor hot, in a way, ideal to get up early and go for jogging. First day, I donned the jogging suit and went out on road,started with a normal walk for about 2 kms. Long way to cover in next 14 days but there was some spirit, spirit of proving my worth again, spirit of doing something worth after a long. And thus every day I started getting up early and started going for regular jogs.

Within few days, I was able to hop run for about 4 to 5 kms. Sweating out like this after about 9 yrs was a feeling of elation. The max upto which I went during practice session was mere 9 kms. I wanted to do about 14 to 15 kms but in between there were various challenges like, coming back late from office and not able to complete the sleep to get up early, upset stomach or some other commitments in which I went out of Delhi. Controlling stomach was biggest challenge as due to injury twice my stomach underwent laprotomy in order to remove the intestinal adhesion. But after consulting a doctor I had a medicine to ease out this trouble.

As I was not able to complete the mark of 14 km in practise so, I was not sure whether I should attempt the run or not, there was some element of confusion. But I guess its normal to have such doubt before any test because this only makes you give your best.

Though I had prepared myself by buying new jogging shoes which will give me better grip and cushion to my left foot, toe and heel but toe and heel had given me piercing pain many a times while practice session and intolerable pain while doing the first marathon.

Early morning on the day of marathon, I got up at around 4, cleaned my bowl well and had my daily diet of (anjeer, kishmiss, khazoor and badaam) first thing in the morning. Mind was still confused whether to go for run or sleep again. For about five minutes I was confused, then suddenly I made up my mind to reach at starting point at least before the half marathon starts and let things to happen on its own. That was perhaps the moment of Rubicon, because after that not going ahead with run never struck me. I reached there on venue and wore my chest number. Public was amazed to see a one leg guy getting ready but that was giving me strength rather. While I was standing next to gate in the holding area, I met a 75 yrs old guy with his friend. He was an athlete of his times and was there to run half marathon. I touched his feet and he wished me good luck for the run. That was the moment when even the iota of doubt I had at the back of mind also got washed away.

And rest is history now, since 2009, I have completed three consecutive half marathons at Delhi and Mumbai both. Amazingly, improving time by 15 min in every run. My present prosthesis has over lived its life of 5 yrs by more than double and it is giving me trouble since last 3 yrs but some how I could manage my runs without getting bogged down by even this restraint. I am now trying to get a new prosthesis specially designed for running purpose with an aim to explore marathons outside India too. The fact that Limca book of records has published my attempt as maiden attempt in India and thus a record has given me a further push to take it forward. 

The inspiring story of Major D P Singh

Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Geetanjali Krishna

 On July 15, 1999, a young major was grievously injured in Kargil during Operation Vijay. Surgeons declared him dead in the army hospital; then managed to save him after amputating his leg. Today, that same soldier has run 12 half marathons, a feat as miraculous as it is inspirational.
Every time he crosses that finish line, Major D P Singh doesn't merely win a battle against his beleaguered body -- he sets new standards of bravery and endurance for people like us.
"When I learnt I'd lost my leg, I told myself that this would be yet another challenge in my life," says Singh.
He endured 10 painful years of recuperation thereafter.
"I just couldn't get used to the sympathetic glances I used to get from people. After a while, I was desperate to change that," he says. Although in his earlier days he'd been more into rally sports, Singh decided to take up running.

Another Version of

The inspiring story of India's blade runner Major D.P Singh

Overcoming adversity.

It was July 8th 1999. India was taking on Pakistan in the Kargil War. Major D.P. Singh fought bravely, but was severely injured by a mortar fired from other side of the border. He was declared dead at the Army hospital, but another doctor saved him. Singh’s legs were amputated in order to keep him alive. 

He did not let his disability affect him as he took up running and wanted to be a part of the Delhi Marathon in 2009. That was how long it took for Singh to recover from his injuries. 

“When I learnt I lost my leg, I told myself that this would be yet another challenge in my life. I just couldn’t get used to the sympathetic glances I used to get from people. After a while, I was desperate to change that,” Singh said.

The training

The training schedule of Singh has been gruelling. It takes him close to two hours just to get ready and wear the prosthesis. “So to run at 5 am, I wake up at 3”, he says.

He initially hopped on his good leg and dragged the prosthetic leg. After months of practice, he was able to hop-run for about five kilometers. Singh was happy with all the hard work he put in. “Sweating out like this after so long elated me. Although it was slow going, but I managed to run two half marathons like this,” he said. The amazing part about the run was that Singh improved his timing by 15 minutes in each attempt.

Singh got to know about the fibre blade prosthetic from South African blade runner Oscar Pistorius. He has entered the Limca book of records for being the first Indian to run a half marathon with a blade. 

Indian army helped a lot

He attributes his success to the discipline he received in the Indian army. “I owe it all to my upbringing as a Sikh and training in the Indian army, which has given me the ability to convert adversity into opportunity”.

His goal is to run a full marathon. “When I was injured, I received blood from countless people of different castes, creeds and states. With the blood of India running in my veins, I feel I can do everything”, he concludes.

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