As Satyaprakash Tiwari manoevered his wheelchair across the finish line of the Mumbai Marathon 2010 on Sunday, he had one regret on his mind. “Why can’t the wheelchair event be a competitive one like in other international marathons?” asked 43-year-old, whose both legs have been amputated.
Tiwari was keen on entering his wheelchair for the half marathon but the organisers turned down his request on technical grounds. “To make the wheelchair event a competitive one, we will need professional wheelchairs which we don’t have here. We are not yet at that stage,” said Bruno Goveas, the Mumbai Marathon’s public relations director.
But that hasn’t stopped Tiwari, who has won 13 medals in various international sporting events, from participating in the Mumbai marathon’s wheelchair category for the past six years. “ I want to tell those who are too lazy to run the marathon, that I rose at 4 am and came from Ghatkopar. We all have to be active in such a way to contribute to India’s progress,” said Tiwari, who practises on his wheelchair everyday for 10 km.
For others like Nandalal Vishwakarm, 21, the thrill of participating in the event was a high. “I have been on a wheelchair for the last three years. Today, after ages, I felt rejuvenated,” he said beaming at the finish line.
About 470 people, including aides and companions of those participating on wheelchairs, whizzed between CST and Churchgate and back. Ridhi Gada, a participant, completed the 2.5 km stretch with an aide pushing her wheelchair. “Ridhi always feels sad when she cannot stand up when the national anthem is played in theatres,” said her aide, who didn’t wish to be named. “But participating here every year always gives her something to look forward to.”
And those who helped pushed them along the way were just as excited. For Ajit Sanghvi who learnt to manoeuver 10-year-old Farmino in his brand new wheelchair “It was an honor to be able to participate with him.”