When Marine Commando Praveen Teotia battled against terrorists during the 26/11 terror attack at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai in 2008, he knew that he was tackling some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world. And he paid a high price for his bravery.
Taking four bullets during that fateful siege, Praveen was severely wounded with injuries in one of the lungs and an ear.
But today, he stands tall amidst all odds and runs marathons despite his damaged lung.
Last Saturday, Praveen was one amongst hundreds of participants in the 72km-long Khardung La marathon in Ladakh, and managed to make it well within the stipulated time and even received a medal!
“After I was shot, doctors had given up on me. But I hung on for five months in the hospital and recovered, although my hearing was impaired,” the 32-year-old Shaurya Chakra winner told Times of India.
Post recovery, Praveen’s impairments disqualified him from being in combat. However, he was reappointed with the rank of a petty officer – under which non-active duties like desk work was assigned.
But the man wasn’t one to be subdued. Not wanting to waste away his zeal for life with a monotonous desk job, he put his name as an applicant for a Navy mountaineering expedition.
His application was rejected on medical grounds. Instead of being disheartened, Praveen became even more determined to prove his mettle. He got in touch with marathon runner Pervin Batliwala, who encouraged him to train for long-distance runs.
Starting with training in 2014, Praveen ran the Mumbai Half Marathon in 2015. He ran under an alias because he was not sure how the Navy would take his participation.
Finally, in 2016, he was part of the Indian Navy Half Marathon and participated in the Half Iron Man Triathlon in Jaipur, which involves a gruelling 1.9 km swim, 90 km bicycling and a 21 km run.
But the Navy follows rulebooks, and as per the rules, Praveen was not ‘fit’ for such tasks. Not wishing to clash with the organisation or put aside his vision, Praveen took voluntary retirement.
“I wanted everyone to know I was the same man who went into the Taj hotel a commando. I had the right not to be forgotten,” he told the ToI.
Following his voluntary retirement on July 31, Praveen started training for the Khardung La Challenge and completed the high-altitude run almost an hour and a half before the stipulated time of 14 hours.
With plans of pushing himself further, Praveen Teotia now plans on participating in a full Iron Man Triathlon.
We salute the brave man and his unfaltering resolve for letting nothing pull him down!