Kotak Wheelchair Marathon 2017 – September 3

Asia-Pacific, Misc., News, August 28 2017

CHENNEI, INDIA: Kotak Wheelchair Marathon 2017 is set to be held in Chennai on September 3 and the organisers are hoping to create positive social impact through this event. The main aim is to create awareness regarding the necessity of the wheelchair for people with disabilities and to focus on disability due to spinal cord injuries. The marathon will also be an inclusive one, as the able-bodied people would be participating in it too.

wheelchair racing International paralympic swimmer, Justin Vijay Jesudas, the brain behind the event, in a chat with us, speaks about the marathon, how it will be bigger than the first event that was held in 2015, about misconceptions regarding disabilities and much more.

“The prime motive of the event is to showcase the importance of wheelchair for people with disabilities. Apart from that, we also wanted to focus on disability because of spinal cord injuries — there has been not much awareness regarding this,” Justin Vijay Jesudas starts the  conversation.

He adds, “In fact, spinal cord injuries are one of the worst forms of disabilities. For the people, who’re affected due to such injuries,  there are more complications as their body is entirely paralysed below the level of injury. So we wanted to focus on people, who are paralysed below the neck.”

The paralympic swimmer also states that there are some misconceptions that need to be addressed. “Generally, if you see newspaper articles, you see terms like ‘wheelchair-confined’ and ‘wheelchair-bound’. Actually speaking, wheelchair is the one that keeps us mobile and liberates us. I can move wherever I want to, only in my wheelchair — it’s not the one that confines us,” he affirms.

Justin mentions that apart from creating awareness, the motive is also to show that people with disabilities can lead an independent life — “I’m a quadriplegic person. In spite of  that, I drive a hand-operated car modified by myself, I swim for India at the World Championships, I surf and even indulge in scuba diving — I live pretty much an independent life. So the idea behind this event is to tell people, ‘hey, everything is not over, you can still live independently’.”

Speaking about why they’ve chosen to create awareness through a marathon event, Justin explains, “I feel that sport is one of the best integrators in bringing people with disabilities back into a community. Because, to pursue a sport, you have to be consistent, you’ll have to train everyday and while doing that, you keep yourself physically fit, mentally agile and socially active — it gives people more confidence.”

Speaking about the inclusive nature of the event, he says, “This is first marathon that is organised by people on wheelchair for both people on wheelchair and able-bodied people,” Justin elaborates.

Sharing with us about the response the event has garnered so far, he states, “In 2015, 700 able-bodied people and around 150 people with disabilities participated in the event. This year, we wish to push the number a lot more, with 500 people with different sort of disabilities participating in the event. Ankur Dhama, a prominent blind runner, Major D.P. Singh, a Kargil war veteran, who’s called as the ‘Blade Runner of India’ and Sailesh Kumar, India’s fastest half marathoner on a wheelchair, are also participating.”

On a concluding note, Justin says that the team is hoping to make this event as one of the most prominent marathons in Chennai.

Source: Deccan Chronicle

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