Being Thrown Off A Train Did Not Stop Her From Climbing Mount Everest, With An Artificial Leg!

Arunima Sinha lost her leg when some robbers pushed her out of a moving train. Two years later she became the first  woman amputee to climb the Mount Everest. From battling the difficult days in the hospital to chasing her dreams of scaling the highest peak, Sinha’s story is all about courage, passion, dedication and respect. 

Arunima Sinha, a former national level volleyball player from Uttar Pradesh, lost her leg three years ago when some burglars demanded her gold chain, and on her refusal, pushed her out of the moving train. She was hit by a passing train and suffered severe injuries.

The ugly incident in 2011, which she describes as her “darkest hour”, changed her life completely. But 26-year old Sinha stood tall and converted this challenge into an opportunity, becoming the first woman amputee to climb Mount Everest.

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“I turned my artificial leg into my strength and stubbornly chose the most difficult sport for myself,” she says.

Inspired by cricketer Yuvraj Singh, who had successfully defeated cancer, she decided to “do something” with her life. She didn’t want people to pity her. Instead, she wanted to get her life back, and, with support from her brother and coach, she became more determined about what she had to do.

“When I was undergoing treatment at AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) for four months, I could not do anything on my own. But then one day I decided to climb the Everest,” she says.

She joined Eco Everest Expedition group in the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation-run training camp in Uttarkashi and got trained under ace mountaineer Bachendri Pal. While going through a year-long rigorous mental and physical training she would sometimes feel disheartened when she could not catch up with “normal” people, but her strong dedication kept her going.

Sinha had climbed 21,110 ft up Mt Chhamser Kangri (21,798 ft) of Ladakh in September 2011, but had to abandon the expedition 690 ft short of the summit due to bad weather conditions. But her aim was to scale the Everest.

And, after immense hard work, training and 52 days of a difficult climb from Kathmandu to the top of the peak she fulfilled her dream as she conquered the highest summit which was 8,848 meters above the sea level on May 21, 2013.

Getting over the challenges

After the train incident, doctors had to amputate her leg below the knee to save her life. A rod was inserted inside her leg to provide support to the damaged limb.

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She hated the look of pity and sympathy in everyone’s eyes. She didn’t want to be looked upon as a handicapped person and wanted to live a normal life like before. She yearned to do something that could help her regain what she had lost – her confidence. She now had a prosthetic leg and a strong will to succeed.

She took on one challenge at a time and defeated every challenge she faced on her way. There were many instances during her climb when the coach advised her to give up and go back due to extreme conditions.

At one point of time she started to sweat so extensively that she felt that her artificial leg would come off. But she couldn’t take off her gloves to support the leg for fear of frostbite, so she dragged herself till the camp. Not being a quitter, she continued her journey with high spirits and positive thoughts.

“I would not have climbed Mount Everest if I had not met with the accident. Though I lost my leg in the incident, it made me much stronger. When I was going through a tough time, I remembered my mother’s words who told me that when on the edge, look behind and see how much you have climbed and you will realize that you are only one step away from your destination,” she says.

She was supported by BVG India for her expedition. With the prize money, she has purchased a land in Uttar Pradesh and plans to open a sports academy for poor and physically challenged children.

Sinha is an inspiration to all those who give up on their lives due to small obstacles. She has proved that a strong determination and will is far more important than a strong body. She overcame her challenges and made history. Hers is a story of courage, passion and dedication and how nothing can come in the way of a strong mind.

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