From being bed-ridden to an aspiring paralympic marathoner and athletic coach, Sailesh Kumar has come a long way.
“Life changed after I fell and had that spinal injury, leading top multiple disabilities at once, at the age of 17. It brought me down and I had lost all hope of recovering and leading a dignified life,” shares Sailesh Kumar, who is now preparing for the 2020 paralympics.
The transformation was not easy. It took him a long time to get started on a routine that would enable him to even aspire for participating in the paralympics.
At his rehabilitation center, he learnt that people in worst conditions than him have begun a new life. With a newfound motivation he started playing basketball and participating in marathons. While participating in a half marathon in Chennai, he took 139 minutes to cover the distance.
“Sailesh got associated with the Ganga Trust, who is run by one of my college mates, who also started the organisation after an accident. The distance at the half marathon was covered by him on a normal wheelchair. When this came to my notice we knew that we had to help,” shares Thota Ranganath founder of FuelADream.com, a crowdfunding platform, trying to raise funds for a racing wheelchair for Sailesh. “It is incredible that he is using a normal wheelchair. It is important to nourish such talent,” adds Ranganath.
Currently working at the Chandigarh Spinal Rehab, Sailesh coaches people with athletic aspirations. “It is utterly important for differently abled people to seek professional help. When a person becomes dependent on another for small chores, frustration and anger can build up very easily. Apart from the emotional turmoil, there is a lot of physical training that one needs. For example a person with lower body disability doesn’t feel sensation while sitting in a certain position and might forget to change position every few hours, leading to sores. Often injured people as well as caretakers at home are not aware of such details.”
Apart from being a coach, he is also a national level wheelchair basketball player. “Of course I love basketball but it is difficult to form a team. If chance arises, I would definitely want to be a part of the wheelchair basket ball team in the future,” adds Sailesh, who is completely focused on the Tokyo paralympics 2020 now.
With an aim to win a medal for his country he trains everyday. “A lot of upper body strength is required in wheelchair marathons. So I work on building my upper body, focus a lot on nutrition and keep myself motivated. If the racing wheelchair comes, I am sure I will be able to train in a better way,” Sailesh adds with confidence.