It has been an enthralling 32 years for Anandan Gunasekharan- from a small village of Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu to becoming a soldier of Madras Sappers in the Indian Army and then surviving from near death to be an Indian blade runner winning multiple national and international medals.
In 2005, Anandan Gunasekharan joined Indian Army as a soldier. But initially, seeing his ability to excel in every type of sport, he was placed in Potential Athletics Team in Bengaluru. There were some intense Athletic trainings and workouts for him during this phase. But, as per Indian Army’s protocol, in 2008, Anandan Gunasekharan was posted in Jammu and Kashmir to serve the country near the Line of Control. Just 5 months after his posting, Anandan went for a check on a wire fence along the LoC along with his colleagues.
“We were descending the slope after finishing our duty; I was behind my colleagues when suddenly I stepped on a mine covered with snow. Instantly there was a heavy blast and I felt that someone threw me vehemently at some distance away from there. I fell down with a heavy crash and as I didn’t lose my senses I felt that there was nothing beyond my left knee. My colleagues rushed to me, took me fast to the nearest check post from where I was flown to the base hospital.”
Anandan had an immediate surgery on his left leg at the army hospital. Later, after nearly one month of mild recovery, he was shifted to Artificial Limb Centre in Pune. The doctors there advised him of amputation as that would have been a better option.
“The doctors gave me two days time to think over the matter. In the centre I found so many people walking, moving, and running easily with artificial limbs. So I understood that it would not be a major problem to adjust to the situation.”
Anandan’s surgery was completed smoothly; but life after that was his hardest phase. His greatest worry was his parents to whom the news could have been a disaster. He requested his seniors not to disclose the news to his parents and wished to go back to them only after recovering. The rehabilitation period seemed to be a testing time but Gunasekharan bravely confronted the situation and through his sheer will power smoothly converted his artificial limb into a real one.
“I went back to my parents only after getting completely cured. My healing process was quite fast. It took only 4 months to come back to my normal form.”
But in these 4 months, Anandan not only concentrated on his healing but also made up his mind about his future. While on hospital bed he came to know about Oscar Pistorius, the blade runner who is the fastest man on no legs. Pistorius inspired him much and Anandan considered starting a new career in Athletics on his artificial limb. In this whole process, Indian Army was his constant support.
“I started participating in national-level Athletic meets. As running was always my favourite , it gave me immense pleasure that I could continue it even after the disaster. But running on wooden artificial limb was a bit problematic as sometimes the wood broke injuring my knee further. So I thought that if I intend to continue my career in Athletics then I need to have blades. I got my blades in 2014 and I was overwhelmed by the support I got when I switched to blade running. That is exactly when my career started.”
With vigorous training, Gunasekharan made himself ready to compete with the best in the world. His first international gold came in 2014 at International Paralympic Grand Prix held in Tunisia and in the same year he made headlines when he broke the Asian record in 200m at the World Para Military Games. He also became the first Indian to win a medal in Para Military Games. Following this, Anandan has been winning medals of all colours in different competitions worldwide. However, Gunasekharan is at the height of his career in 2019. After winning 200m gold at World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Paris, he won three gold medals at the 7th World Military Games held at Wuhan in China. He finished 100m in 12.00 seconds, 200m in 24.31 seconds and 400m in 53.5 seconds and clinched the gold medals in these three events.
Anandan Gunasekharan has been promoted to the post of Subedar in the Indian Army. Presently he is an Indian Para Athlete of Madras Engineering Group & Centre (MEG) Bangalore. Along with Indian Army and MEG, Gunasekharan is indebted to Artificial Limb Centre in Pune for transforming his life and opening a sea of opportunity for him. Having won gold medal in the 200m event at the Handisport Open Paris 2019, Gunasekaran also qualified for the Paralympics 2020 to be held in Tokyo.
GUNASEKHARAN FOR GLORY
- 100m Silver, 200m Gold, 4x100m Gold at International Paralympic Grand Prix 2014 in Tunisia
- 100m Gold, 200m Gold, 400m Gold at Senior Para National Athletic Championship 2015 in Ghaziabad, India
- 100m Silver, 200m Gold with Meet Record at Sri Lanka Army Para Games 2015 in Colombo, Sri Lanka
- 100m silver, 200m Gold at World Military Games 2015 in Mungyeaog, South Korea
- 200m Silver, 400m Gold at Asia Oceania Para Athletics Championship 2016 in Dubai, Abu Dhabi
- 100m Silver, 400m Gold, 4x100m Silver, 4x400m Gold at 17th Senior Para National Athletic Championship 2017 in Jaipur, India
- 400m Silver at 9th Fazza International Athletic Championship 2017 in Dubai, Abu Dhabi
- 200m Silver, 400m Gold at 10th Fazza International Athletics Championship 2018 in Dubai, Abu Dhabi
- 100m Gold, 200m Gold, 400m Silver at Sharjah International Athletic Grand Prix 2018 in Sharjah, UAE
- 100m Silver, 200m Gold, 400m Gold with new Asian Record at 1st Indian Open Para Athletic Championship 2018 in Bengaluru, India
- 200m Bronze, 400m Silver at Asian Para Games 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia
- 200m Gold at Handisport Open 2019 in Paris, France
- 100m Gold, 200m Gold, 400m Gold at 7th World Military Games in Wuhan, China