The Man Who Beat Polio To Grab A Silver Medal At The Commonwealth Games 2014

Rajinder Singh Rahelu contracted polio when he was eight months old. Since then, he has not been able to walk. But he did not let his disability come in between him and his dreams. He continued to practice, and today, he has created history after winning a silver medal in powerlifting at the Commonwealth Games 2014.

Can you imagine someone whose legs are affected by polio participating in a sport at an international level that requires extreme physical strength? Rajinder Singh Rahelu is the answer to this question. Not only did he lift a weight of  180.5 kg but he also managed to grab a silver medal in the men’s heavyweight power lifting competition at the Commonwealth Games (CWG), 2014 that were recently concluded at Glasgow.


Rahelu contracted Polio when he was eight months old and has not been able to walk ever since. Born on July 22, 1973 in Jalandhar, Rahelu has been a silent witness to his family’s financial struggles. His father was a bandmaster and his mother worked as a maid.

Youngest of five siblings, Rahelu decided to discontinue his studies after completing high school. In 1996, a little encouragement from his powerlifter friend motivated Rahelu to pursue a career in this sport.

He started by lifting a weight of 75 kgs but rigorous training and motivation made him strong enough to lift a weight of 115 kgs within six months.

He grabbed his first medal in powerlifting in 1997 at the Punjab Open Meet and since then, he never looked back. The next year he won the National Powerlifting Championship at Hyderabad which gave a big push to his career.

He won a bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Paralympics in the 56 kg category. He also represented India at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing and bagged the fifth position in the final standings. 


When this Arjun Award-winning athlete represented India at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, he failed in all his three attempts to pick 175 Kgs, but created history at the 2014 CWG games by lifting 180.5 kgs.

Rahelu’s dedication and passion led him to this position and his continuous efforts have made Punjab government employ him as a coach at the Punjab sports department. He also trains specially-abled power lifters in Gohawar village.

“He (Rahelu) would come on a tri-cycle to our college where he practiced regularly. As his tri-cycle could not go everywhere, he would move around walking with his hands and I feel this grit has taken him so far. It was also encouraging for other sportspersons in the college,” Dr. Manjit Singh, director physical education at the Ramgarhia College in Phagwara says.

It is heroes like Rahelu that keep us inspired on our lowest days. Watching him succeed give us all hope, and that’s why we wish him success in all his future endeavors. More power to Rahelu!

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