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Triathlon after losing one leg

The Straits Times (26 July 2012)

Mr Abdul Alim lost his lower right leg in an accident, but that has not stopped him from leading an active lifestyle.

What do you do to keep fit?

Ever since I got my prosthetic legs for running and cycling last year, I have been exercising six days a week for a couple of hours every evening after work.

On Mondays and Thursdays, I swim, without my prosthetic leg, for about 20 laps.

On Tuesdays and Fridays, I put on my prosthetic cycling leg and cycle about 20 to 40km. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, I run about 10km using my prosthetic running leg.

I am fitter and leaner than I have ever been.

Why did you decide to embark on your new exercise regimen?

I feel as if I have been given a second chance at life. I want my life to be more meaningful than the one I led before my accident.

Previously, I was just living from day to day. I didn't have any goals in life. I would run, cycle, swim or play football once or twice a week, but I didn't have a regular exercise routine.

After my accident, I read about other amputees online and was inspired. There was the American Dana Bowman, who lost both his legs due to a skydiving accident.

He got himself a pair of prosthetic legs and went back to skydiving.

I figured that if he can return to an active life with two missing legs, I don't see why I can't, when I still have one good leg left.

I started to set goals for myself. I had a prosthetic leg for walking and I used it to exercise three times a week, mainly brisk walking and doing workouts at the gym.

But I wanted to do more. I wanted to run races like Americans Sarah Renersten, an ironman athlete, and John Siciliano, a paralympic athlete.

But to do that, I had to find sponsors to get prosthetic legs which would allow me to cycle and run. Prostheses cost thousands of dollars and I could not afford them.

So, when I finally found my sponsors, I was so grateful to them. With my new legs, I was able to step up my exercise routine.

I am training for my first triathlon next month. I will swim 200m, cycle 10km and run 2.4km.

I hope to do more triathlons and marathons and attempt my first ironman in 2014. My goal now is to complete the races. Later, I would like to race competitively.

I hope to be an inspiration to other amputees. After my accident, I wanted very much to meet another amputee who was leading a physically active lifestyle, but I couldn't find anyone, except online.

I hope that I can be that person to other amputees here. I hope to show that even if you lose a leg, you can still be sporty.

Was there a time when you were not fit and fab?

It must have been right after my accident in 2002. I was in low spirits and lying in bed most of the time.

My weight went up to about 80kg. It was not good to have all that weight resting on my good leg, so I made myself get up to exercise.

What is your diet like?

I eat three meals a day and I don't take supper. I used to eat junk food, such as fast food, and oily food, such as fried chicken.

Ever since I started my new exercise regimen, I have cut down on them. I also try to eat more vegetables.

How do you relax and achieve a healthy work-life balance?

As a logistics clerk, I work six days a week. It is pretty hectic.

I relax by playing with my children. Sometimes, I would take them to the playground. Playing with them reduces my stress levels.

What are the three most important things in your life?

Health is the most important. Without health, I would not be able to take care of my family and work, which are the other two most important things to me.

Would you go for plastic surgery?

I heard that, overseas, it is possible to do undergo plastic reconstructive surgery such as a leg transplant. Cost aside, I probably won't go for something like that.

I am happy with my artificial legs.

They have allowed me to live a normal life. I can work, exercise and carry my baby.

Do you think you are sexy?

My wife has never said that to me. She did say though that I have more muscles now.

leawee@sph.com.sg


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Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.