Eight years ago, a road accident left 31-year-old Hyderabad boy, Aditya Mehta, without a limb. Today, it’s been 19 months that the fighter has been living his dream on the two wheels of the cycle, while inspiring others to not give up hope. One of the first accomplished Indian paracyclists to have won two silver medals for India at the Hero Para-Asian Cycling Championships 2013, Aditya is not one to take kindly to sympathy. “I hate the word ‘bechara’. My father calls me a fighter. When I was going through this difficult phase, he always told me ‘you are a fighter, fight back!’. That made me rediscover myself through cycling,” recalls he.
On a fund-raising mission, an endurance ride that would last 36 days and 3,800 km, covering eight states and 36 cities, Aditya halts at Chandigarh on Wednesday for an hour to share bits and pieces from his journey. “It has now become my dream to help other physically challenged people discover the joy of life through sports. To make this possible, I have started a foundation called Aditya Mehta Foundation, which calls for just Rs. 1 donation from all citizens of India. This money is not for me. I belong to a financially sound family; my father could afford a limb worth `7 lakh and a bicycle worth Rs. 2.7 lakh. These especially designed limbs and sports equipments are very costly; we need to help others find meaning in life too,” shares Aditya.
Ask him about challenges on the way and he says, “The most challenging stretch till now has been a single track road on the way to Jammu. Truck and bus drivers are not exactly courteous on the roads. There have been times where I’ve just about avoided falling off into a deep ditch.”
“I have also been a part of the London to Paris cycling challenge — 520 km, with 9,000 ft climb in three days — but there, people are very friendly. They halt traffic to give us way. I’m not saying Indians aren’t friendly, but you rarely come across someone who stops and comes up to you for photographs and autographs,” adds Aditya, who is accompanied by a dedicated team — his doctor, mechanic and prosthetic expert — on every expedition.
Sharing his route map, Aditya says, “I would be going to Ambala, Panipat, then Delhi and would conclude the race on December 13 in Kanyakumari. Nineteen months ago, during my first bicycle race in Hyderabad, I fell five times. But, those five falls gave me the never-look-back attitude. Every fall teaches you to rise and try again. I hope, looking at me, the authorities of India would plan a sports academy for amputee sportspersons.” Aditya has also been featured in the Limca Book of Records 2013.