Two para-athletes all set to test mettle in cross-country rally
Shimla : Para-athletes Vinod Rawat of Mumbai and Ashok Munne of Nagpur may have lost a lower limb each, but certainly not their zest for life and the spirit of adventure.
Both Rawat and Munne will zip on their motorcycles over rocks, gravel and dust on some of the most challenging roads in Kargil, Zanskar and Ladakh when Raid de Himalaya -- the world's highest cross-country rally -- will kick off in Jammu and Kashmir on October 8.
Over 200 competitors will participate in the rally from October 8 to 14, which will kick off from Leh, organisers said on Sunday.
Both don't seem to have broken a sweat over the fact that the rally is considered among the top 10 toughest ones in the world, given that they are competing in the toughest of the categories -- Raid Xtreme Moto.
Munne, 34, wears many a cap -- a mountaineer, paraglider, scuba diver, marathon runner, black belt in martial arts and an ace swimmer.
He climbed Mt Everest in 2016, and plans to repeat the feat in 2019.
He said he lost his leg in a train accident in 2008 when he was merely 24 years of age, but didn't let the handicap limit him or his spirit.
"I was 24 when I lost my leg in a train mishap. People said my life was over. I proved them that I can and will do everything in life. There is no physical limitation. I will live my life the way I want to," Munne said.
Munne, who uses a blade in place of his amputated leg, is the brand ambassador of two multinational artificial limbs companies.
"Now, everything is a surprise in life. Everything is a new joy. It feels so wonderful that I am competing in the Raid this year. I had never thought I will live such an exciting life," he added.
Rawat, who lives in Mumbai, has lived the Raid dream in his head for eight years.
He said his leg was amputated when he was only a child. He got his driving licence in 2000 and has been an avid motorcyclist ever since.
"I came to know about the Raid in 2010. Since then, it has been my most cherished dream to compete and finish it," Rawat said.
He has been going to Leh since 2011 at least once a year, practising motorcycling there so that his body gets used to the exacting demands made by high-altitude terrain.
In 2017, as part of his Raid preparation, Rawat went to Leh on a cycle all the way from Manali via Khardung La. Rawat says he undertook the rally to check his stability and stamina.
"Like we test the bike's power, I wanted to test myself. Machine doesn't take the man. The man takes the machine," added Rawat.
Rawat's Raid dream has been sponsored by Jaipur Foot, the artificial-limb manufacturing company that gave him a rubber-based prosthetic to enable mobility.
Raid de Himalaya is organised by Shimla-based Himalayan Motorsport, whose President Vijay Parmar said that their club always promoted the spirit of excellence in life against all odds by supporting para-athletes like Deepa Malik and Arun Bareja, and now, Ashok Munne and Vinod Rawat.