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Captain Avnish Bajpai, who ran the half marathon in Mumbai with a prosthetic limb, is hoping to better his own record
After crossing the finishing line at Azad Maidan in the recently-concluded Mumbai Marathon, 25-year-old Captain Avnish Bajpai was a little disappointed with his performance. "I clocked 2 hours and 42 minutes in the half marathon but I'm not happy. I could have done better if I hadn't got a little distracted in between. I'm hoping to improve next year," he says. Ask any runner, and he would say this speed was good for a débutante athlete. Incidentally, Captain Bajpai was running with a prosthetic limb.
Part of the 19 Dogra regiment of Assam, Bajpai was in a six-member team of Indian Army soldiers who participated in this year's Mumbai marathon after receiving prosthetic limbs at the ALC.
It was March 2010, when 25-year-old Captain Bajpai's life changed completely during a routine field firing exercise at a range in Hoshiarpur, Punjab. The exercise went horribly wrong when he was caught in a grenade blast and the shrapnel hit him at close range. "I was only 20 meters away from it. I started bleeding profusely and doctors were not sure if I would survive, but I did," says Bajpai. But the injury was so severe that the leg had to be amputated. The same year, he received a prosthetic leg at the Army's Artificial Limb Center (ALC) in Pune. "I have had to undergo 17 operations to be able to run again," he says.
Bajpai had no choice but to adjust. "Being in the Army has made me tough. It wasn't easy to adjust to a prosthetic limb," he says. The phantom pain or the feeling of pain felt in an absent limb or a portion of the limb, was unbearable at first. "There is no cure, no medication or pain killer that one can take. It was very difficult at first, but then I got used to it," reminisces Bajpai.
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