How a National Level Cyclist Is Fighting Both Spinal Injury & Poverty with Inspiring Confidence

Meet Shahira, a 22-year-old who is currently battling a spine injury and poverty to fulfil her dreams of becoming a world champion in cycling. This is how.

Shahira Attar was only 15 when she took up cycling as a passion and a profession. Back home, her uncle Usman Attar was a national-level cyclist and going with him to various events had inspired Shahira since childhood. Not only did he motivate her to take up the sport, but also used to train her in the beginning. The two-wheeler became her best friend and also her ride on the road towards a bright future where all her dreams would come true. She started participating in state-levels events and winning became a habit.

Four years ago she bagged the silver medal at the 17th National Road Cycling Championship held in Muzzafarpur, Bihar. This was followed by other national level events held in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Today, the 22-year-old is a national-level cyclist and has 20 medals in her name.

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But what started as a journey towards a successful career had to come to long pause ever since Shahira met with an accident that cost her lots more than just hospital bills. “During a state-level event in Belgaum, two people ran over me on a bike,” she remembers. The accident led to a severe spine injury and the surgery involved getting a rod inserted in her spine. Shahira was bedridden for four months after that and it has been difficult for her mother to pay for her treatment and medicines.

Shahira lives in a small shed with a tin roof in Almatti village of Vijayapura district in Karnataka, with her five siblings and her mother. After her father passed away when she was young, her mother had to start working as a farm labourer. In situations like these, her uncle had to take a loan of Rs. 2 lakh to meet the hospital expenses after her accident.

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But be it poverty or injury, nothing could come between Shahira and her dream of becoming a world cycling champion. “I am walking now and in two months I want to hop back on the cycle and start again,” says the confident cyclist. She is currently recovering but needs at least a year’s rest and regular treatment before she can go back to cycling professionally.

Recently, Vikram Kamath, a student at Carnegie Mellon University, came to know about her from a news report. He was extremely touched by her condition and started a fundraising campaign to help her.

“I think the money will help her mother more because she is in debt due to Shahira’s injury. She has hospital bills to take care of so this may help her pay those. Shahira also expressed interest in learning English and I suggested she uses some of the money to attend spoken English classes. The financial support could help her recover and go further in her sports career. She’s from a small town in Karnataka and her success may inspire others around her,” he says.

You can help Shahira start cycling again. Donate here.

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