This is how Mumbai Marathoner, Nihaad Panju, Earned our Respect at His First obstacle race…


Twenty-nine-year-old marathoner, Nihad Panju, participated in his first obstacle with DC, feeling he wouldn’t be able to complete most of the obstacles. What happened next will blow your mind.

Nihad Panju stands out in the crowd and he knows it—he was diagnosed with tubercular meningitis as a five-month-old baby that caused a complete paralysis on his left side. Till day, he has a slight limp when he walks, and his right hand demands the strength for both hands. Nihad’s struggle started before he knew what he was fighting for. By age 10 his parents had taken him to every conventional and alternative therapy available only to be met with disappointment—it was the slowest possible route to defeat you can imagine.

That year, they discovered the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (IAHP), based in Philadelphia, and their prescription altered what you’d imagine to be a ‘normal’ childhood. His new ‘normal’ would be an extensive holistic neurological reorganisation that involved gruelling 14-hour workdays with zero holidays.

Nihad had to be taken out of school and shift focus to physically and mentally excruciating demands of the programme. Pain had become a routine friend, but he was getting better! This went on for four-and-a-half years, after which Nihad joined school again. Afterwards, he also studied Interactive Multimedia Design in Singapore.

[At one point on the DC track after he crossed an obstacle of barbed wires, he stood up, looked back and said, “I did this for two hours every day as a kid.”

To continue to improve his physical abilities, Nihad was given a running program which included daily aerobic running. Running was essential for him to be fit and to improve his mobility. It was during this time that Nihad developed a life-long love of running and started dreaming of running marathons. Nihad started his preparations with baby steps, running 3 rounds (1.2 kms) of the CCI grounds in Mumbai every day. Thanks to a brilliant trainer he was running 12-14 rounds of the stadium within a short time after which he was introduced to running on the road.

Nihad believes that people must not allow any kind of disability to prevent them from any of their dreams. It is possible with determination and hard work you can do anything you want to - even if you are told achieving something is impossible. If he can do it, anyone can. Nihad’s story is that of grit, perseverance, character and resilience. His achievements in sports have given the world an identity to inspire from.

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