Blinded Nepali soldier battles to London start

Nepal athlete Bikram Bahadur Rana set a new personal best at the Paralympics, capping an extraordinary journey to the British capital from the Himalayan nation where he was blinded by Maoist rebels.

Aided by a guide runner, the former warrant officer came fourth out of four in his T11 200m heat for blind and visually impaired athletes on Monday, clocking a time of 26.95sec, more than four seconds behind the quickest qualifier.

He was ultimately slowest of 18 runners overall but the former soldier, one of only a two-strong national team at the Games, is lucky to be in London at all, after nearly losing his life in the forests of central Nepal.

Nine years ago he and his foot patrol triggered two roadside bombs left by Maoist rebels hiding in the forest.

The explosion forced Rana to the ground, blinded and with blood pouring from an open wound in his neck as he scrambled for his rifle while bullets whizzed past and shrapnel burnt into his face.

Now 31, Rana told AFP before travelling to London that he has vivid memories of his last day of active service as a government soldier battling the 10-year Maoist insurgency that finally ended in 2006.

"It was the morning of September 12, 2003. A few rain drops were falling from the sky and we had reached a road area in dense forests," he said.

"I was with two other soldiers when a bomb exploded. Both of my friends died on the spot and I was severely injured. My eyes were hurt, my face was covered with blood and there were wounds across my body."

Rana searched desperately for his gun, coughing acrid black smoke and blinded in one eye, as a group of Maoist rebels sprang from the roadside trees and opened fire.

His life was saved when his comrades drove the insurgents back into trees. His last memory before losing consciousness was the silence that descended.

"I also heard music which sounded like water flowing in a small river but I found out it was the noise of the flow of blood from my neck and abdomen," he said.

Doctors battled to save the sight in one of his eyes in the coming days but after two weeks in an army hospital he was totally blind.

"I did not return to work for three months after the incident. I stayed at the hospital and with my relatives. But I did not want to live life doing nothing," said Rana, who lives in Kathmandu with his wife and two children.

As part of his recovery, Rana was persuaded to visit the Nepal Association of the Blind, where he was inspired by an army major who was taking computer classes despite also having been blinded in the insurgency.

He started classes himself and as part of his training at the association's headquarters in Kathmandu he was introduced to sport for the blind by a visiting cricket coach from Pakistan in 2008.

"I started competing in para athletics in 2008 and I became regional and national champion in the 200 metres in 2009," he added.

Rana clocked 12.85sec in the 100m at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Para Games, finished ninth among 32 runners and gaining a wildcard entry to the London Games.

The road to London hasn't been easy for Rana and teammate Maiya Bishankhe, a women's 100m runner who was born with only one forearm.

They have received little help from the authorities in Nepal, a country which does not invest in Paralympic sport and where facilities for disabled athletes are few and far between.

Rana, who is on Nepal's provisional squad list for the Blind Cricket World Cup in Bangalore, India, in November, says they have had no advice on special diets and have not been provided with footwear and clothing for the Games.

He admitted that he did not expect to be among the medals but said getting to London was a major personal victory.

"I feel very proud of my accomplishments. Despite being blind, I will be able to compete carrying the flag of my country," he said.

"I think the opportunity I have received being a blind athlete has made the country proud."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February
    ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February

    Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) sustains its strong sales in its February performance. Toyota’s strong performance last month was due to the  high demand of the Vios, with sales of 2,012 units and of course the rest of Toyota’s line up such as the Fortuner, Innova, Wigo, Hilux, Avanza and Corolla Altis. Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, recorded 60 units last month. …

  • No apology, but Noy seeks understanding
    No apology, but Noy seeks understanding

    There was no apology, but President Aquino yesterday expressed regret, took “full responsibility” and appealed to the nation for “deepest understanding” for the Jan. 25 Mamasapano raid in which dozens died, including 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos. “To every Filipino who has felt failure or has been hurt because of the events related to this operation, it is with abiding humility that I ask for your deepest understanding,” Aquino said in a speech before the 246 new graduates of …

  • MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician
    MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician

    Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is grateful for Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s praise and presidential endorsement, but says he is not a politician. In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of the search for The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines 2015 Wednesday night, Pangilinan dismissed the idea of running for president in the 2016 elections. “I’m not a politician, I’m just an ordinary business person,” he added. Santiago endorsed Pangilinan as a presidential candidate …

  • No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP
    No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not suspending its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, New People’s Army (NPA) and other lawless groups during the Holy Week, an official said yesterday. Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP public affairs office chief, said the AFP leadership is leaving it up to area and division commanders whether to raise the alert status in preparation for the Holy Week. Those deployed in areas where there are ongoing law enforcement operations against terrorist groups …

  • Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP
    Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP

    The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate a human rights lawyer’s claim of harassment, including surveillance, by several military officers. In a 22-page decision, the former Special Sixth Division of the appellate court granted the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon. The CA ordered the AFP to identify the officers behind the surveillance and file charges against them. The CA ruling said …

  • Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP
    Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP

    President Aquino vowed yesterday to dismantle the culture of factionalism or the bata-bata system within the Philippine National Police as he continued the search for the next PNP chief. Speaking at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) commencement exercises here, the President said the country needed solidarity among leaders and members of the police force so that the policemen would be effective protectors of Filipinos. “Our challenge to the next chief of our national police force: …

  • Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl
    Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl

    Retire and invest in real estate in the Philippines, especially now that the country has made it to the top 10 retirement destinations in the world. This is the message being spread by the Philippine embassy in Washington, with Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. leading the refrain in meetings with various Filipino-American communities in the US. In his talks, Cuisia said that an affordable cost of living as well as warm climate and people are just some of the things that make the Philippines a top …

  • PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson
    PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson

    The stigma of being a namesake of the principal suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre did not prevent Cadet First Class Andal Ampatuan III from entering and graduating from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA). Ampatuan III, now with a rank of police inspector, is a grandson of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. The younger Ampatuan was among the 246 graduates of the PNPA “Lakandula” Class of 2015. Ampatuan III’s mother is Bai Rebecca Ampatuan, a daughter of the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options