Arunima Sinha, a 25-year-old who lost her left leg after being thrown off a moving train in 2011, on Tuesday became the first Indian and the world’s first woman to conquer Mt Everest on a prosthetic leg.
Sinha, a former national-level volleyball player, reached the summit of the highest peak in the world (8,848 metres) at 10.55am. “A Nepal tourism ministry official informed me that Arunima had scaled Everest with two guides and another mountaineer,” Om Prakash, Sinha’s brother-in-law, told HT.
On April 12, 2011, she was on her way to Delhi from Lucknow for a CISF job interview when criminals pushed her out of the Padmawat Express after she resisted their attempts to snatch her chain. She was hit by a passing train, and doctors had to amputate her left leg.
Supported by the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) and trained under Bachendri Pal – who in 1984 became the first Indian woman to scale Everest – Sinha completed her expedition from Kathmandu to the top of the peak in 52 days.
In an interview to a TV channel before leaving on her expedition, Sinha had said she decided to reclaim her life right in the hospital where she was recovering. “At that time, everyone was worried for me. I then realised I had to do something so people stop looking at me with pity. I read about people scaling Mt Everest. I spoke to my older brother and my coach who encouraged me,” she had told the channel.
Prakash added that the apathy of the state government, which had refused to recognise that she was a national-level sportsperson, had driven her to make a mark for herself. “She played national-level volleyball in Chhattisgarh in 2004 and national-level football in Madhya Pradesh in 2002. But the state government did not recognise it,” Prakash said.
Briton Tom Whittaker is the first disabled person to scale the Everest, a feat he achieved in 1998.