A Man of Firsts with a Perennial and Kindling Willpower
You’re not hopeless until you give up hope. Be it challenging situations, disappointments, or people, nothing matters when hope becomes undeterrable. Amarjeet Singh Chawla’s “never say die” story is filled with hope and resoluteness. In the primitive years of life, when parents expect straight A’s from their children, Amarjeet’s family received a shock. During a medical school camp, they discovered that Amarjeet’s eyesight had a defect and that it was likely he would lose the power to see with time.
The thought of becoming blind didn’t go well with a growing Amarjeet. His dreams of becoming a fighter pilot and serve the nation shattered with these reports. When Amarjeet turned thirteen, he was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration, which resulted in a gradual decrease in his eyesight. With the help of friends, cousins, and classmates, Amarjeet finished his schooling up to grade 11.
Somehow or the other, Amarjeet still was a breadwinner, for which he is ever-thankful to his family’s support. But by the time he turned forty, he lost a hundred percent of his eyesight, leading him into the darkness that the first reports revealed. This medical situation pushed Amarjeet into a phase of depression during which he tried to cope with the emotional, mental, and most importantly, physical setback.
Despite this episode that changed his life forever, Amarjeet pulled himself up with the help of his loved ones. They managed to pull him from slipping into severe depression. He went back to working and returned to a stage of normalcy in life. Nonetheless, the sense of incompleteness refused to leave Amarjeet’s mind and heart.
To make things easier to accept, he signed up at the National Association for the Blind. During one blessed day, the association communicated to Amarjeet about the Standard Chartered Marathon held in Mumbai. They wanted him to participate in the marathon that intended to raise funds for the blind. Amarjeet expressed his fear of running a marathon, but they guaranteed an escort for each runner. That run in 2004 was the day that essentially changed his life.
The seven-kilometers marathon, the sound of people’s cheers, and the feeling of breaking all barriers filled Amarjeet’s void of feeling incomplete. The philanthropic run triggered him with the wish to take up running as a habit so that he could perform better the next year. And he did!
In 2005, Amarjeet ran his first half-marathon of 21.097 kilometers in the same event as the previous year. His determination won him appreciation from dignitaries like Kapil Dev and Anil Ambani. Amarjeet’s story as a marathon runner began there, and since then, there’s been no looking back.
It has been sixteen years since then, and Amarjeet is an unstoppable marathon runner. So far, he’s participated in one-hundred- and-thirty half marathons of twenty-one kilometers each. Furthermore, he also partook in seventy ten & twelve-kilometer runs and five ultra runs (17, 24, 38, 50, 55kms).
When Amarjeet ran his 75th half marathon in Pune, he knew that he needed a direction to keep going. He resolved to set a target for himself. The figure “101” came to his mind, and he marked it as a day to make merry.
In two consecutive years, Amarjeet achieved the impossible. In 2019, he ran his 101st marathon at the Tata Mumbai Marathon Event. Amazingly, he ran his 125th marathon in the same event this year, 2020. Both of these events marked milestone moments for Amarjeet, since that is where it all began, and that is where he could carve his personal record. His new target is to run 151 half marathons.
Amarjeet is a man of first. He is the only blind person in India to complete a Mumbai-Pune run, the only blind person in the world to scale a height of 19,830ft on the Dolma Pass in Kailash Parikrama, Tibet (China), the only blind person to have completed 1,100ft rappelling from Takmak Point in Raigad Fort (Maharashtra), and the first blind person in India to paramotor at the height of 1,000 ft above sea level for about ten kilometers.
Amarjeet has left no stones unturned in swimming too. He won gold medals for two consecutive years for the 50m freestyle swimming competition for the disabled. Amarjeet also won a bronze in 50m breast-stroke at the Maharashtra Swimming Competition for the Disabled in the year 2007.
Besides these, he is the recipient of several prestigious awards and titles like the Best Sportsman of the Year (2014), Blind Marathon Runner Award (2016), Star Believe Award (2017), and Mumbai Mayor’s Award for Divyaang (2018), to name a few.
From getting a grip on the ground & mastering survival in water to touching the mountain summits, Amarjeet’s willpower is perennial and kindling. He is beyond proud that he shook off pity from people who looked at him as a blind man and became a ray of sunshine for many. To the many people who solicit inspiration from Amarjeet Singh Chawla’s story, he says, “Keep your confidence level high, believe in yourself, and set goals. And then, nothing will have the power to tame you forever!”