Clad in dark blue denim trousers and a light blue T-shirt and riding a Royal Enfield motorcycle, R. Vigneswara Subbaiah can pass off for a regular motorist in Nagercoil, negotiating the traffic.
Cut to the Arignar Anna Stadium, and one meets a very different Vigneswara. Shod with a running blade in place of his right leg, amputated after an accident in 2013, he is hard at work, practising for an upcoming run.
“In a recent event, I finished 15 km in one hour and 25 minutes,” says the 34-year-old, who runs a mobile service centre, with pride.
The accident crushed his ankle and broke his shin bone in three places. “Doctors amputated the leg as it was beyond mending. The accident also led to the cancellation of my marriage,” he says.
“I went through testing times. Even though parents of many girls appreciated my willpower, they did not come forward to give their daughter in marriage to me,” he adds.
Encouraged by friends on Facebook, he took up long-distance running.
“I used to search the Net for how people with one leg deal with their day-to-day activities and learnt a lot. A group of friends on Facebook persuaded me to take part in a marathon in Hyderabad in 2014,” he says.
Initially, he practised with a wooden leg and cleared five km.
His performance drew the attention of Mohana Gandhi of the Dakshin Rehabilitation Centre in Hyderabad.
She offered him a carbon fibre running blade for free. Vigneswara is now a regular at marathons.
“I took part in the marathon between Besant Nagar beach and Marina,” he says.
Early into his running days, he participated in races meant for the differently-abled.
“Now I take part in regular marathons as I do not want to deprive the differently abled people of their opportunities,” he says.
Pain, for him, is inevitable if one is to overcome hurdles in life.
He met his wife Sridevi at a wedding and approached her parents.
“They agreed to the marriage and we lead a happy life with two children,” says Vigneswara.
A champion all the way.
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