In May 2013, a gritty young woman named Arunima Sinha defied adversity and went on to create history by becoming the first ever female amputee to climb the 8848-metre Mount Everest. With this amazing achievement, she has proven to be an inspiration for thousands of people who might be overwhelmed by obstacles.
Born in 1988 at Ambedkar Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, Sinha played volleyball and football at the national level before fate took a cruel turn in April 2011. While travelling by train from Lucknow to Delhi for the purpose of appearing for an examination to join the CISF, she was pushed out by a group of thieves wanting to snatch her bag and gold chain.
Despite putting up a resistance, she fell off and her leg was run over and crushed by an oncoming train. Due to the seriousness of the injury, doctors had no option but to amputate the leg in order to save her life. A few months later, she was provided with a prothestic leg free of cost by a private company.
While her treatment was in process, Sinha resolved to climb Mount Everest after having drawn inspiration from cricketer Yuvraj Singh’s successful battle with cancer. She completed a mountaineering course from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi.
Having got used to her prothestic leg by now, she got in touch with Bachendri Pal – renowned for being the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest in 1984 – and enrolled for training under her. In 2012, she climbed the 6150-metre Island Peak as preparation for her Everest expedition.
Arunima Sinha with Akhilesh Yadav and Ratan Tata at an event (source- dailyhunt.in)
Sinha began her journey on April 1, 2013 alongwith instructor Susen Mahto and reached the summit of Mount Everest at 10.55 a.m on May 21, 2013, as part of the ‘Eco Everest Expedition’ sponsored by the Tata Group. She thus became the first female amputee in the world to scale the world’s highest mountain peak – astonishingly, just two years after suffering a life-threatening accident.
In recognition of Sinha’s courageous feat, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav awarded her Rs 25 lakh, which included 20 lakh on behalf of the state government plus a cash reward of 5 lakh from the Samajwadi Party. Yadav told her that she had not only brought laurels to the state but also earned a name for the country, adding that he hoped others would gain inspiration from her efforts.
On receiving the honour, Sinha said that she was elated to have transformed a supposed disability into her greatest strength. Before climbing the peak, she had said that she wanted to achieve a feat “so that people stop looking at me with pity”.
She has written a book “Born Again on The Mountain”, launched by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in December 2014 and also was fittingly awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India, in 2015.
Arunima Sinha is now dedicated towards social welfare and she wants to open a free sports academy for the poor and differently-abled athletes. She is donating all the financial aids she is getting through awards and seminars for the same cause. On her ambition of setting up this academy, Yadav assured cooperation by the government “whenever she desired to give shape to it”.
Keeping in mind Yadav’s recently-developed commitment towards encouraging various sports disciplines in the state, it is not surprising to see his support for Sinha’s project. Such achievements can spark a lot of positivity and hope in those who aspire to reach greater heights despite all odds.
The resilience of exemplary individuals like Sinha coupled with the foresight of the state government can only lead to greater benefits for India’s sporting culture.