Paraplegic Mohammad Shams Aalam Shaikh breaks his own record, swims 8 kms in 4 hrs!
Panaji, April 10: It was a proud moment for 30-year-old paraplegic Mohammad Shams Aalam Shaikh on Saturday, when he swam 8 kms in 4 hours and 4 minutes, along the Sinquerim-Baga-Candolim sea in Goa.
Shaikh, who has over 40 gold medals, was a black belt holder in Karate, but over seven years ago, he was diagnosed with a tumour in his spine and his carefree life took a U-turn.
As he underwent various surgeries in 2010, he became paralysed from his lower body. Shaikh, a resident of Bandra in Mumbai, is presently pursuing MBA from Satyabama University in Chennai and recently appeared for his final exams.
During the break, he took a challenge of the longest open sea swimming, as part of the Beach Fest 2017.
Elated over his astonishing feat, Shaikh was quoted saying as to a leading daily, "I expected to complete the distance in two or two-and-half hours, but I had to swim against a very strong tide for a larger part of the course."
Shaikh also said that he "wants to prove that it is possible for persons with disabilities and spinal cord injuries to push themselves beyond their limits."
Against all odds, Shaikh is now gearing up for the 2018 Asian Games and is hoping to find the right coach for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Born on July 17, 1986, Shaikh is also aspiring to apply for the Limca Book of World Records, Asian Book of Records and the Guinness World Records.
In a major achievement for his future ambitions, Shaikh's disability level came down from 100 percent (in 2012) to 72 percent in the latest assessment. He gives all the credit to his swimming passion that also helped him overcome depression and improve his mobility.
On November 26, 2014, Shaikh had participated in the Navy Day Open Sea Swimming Competition under the differently-abled category, at the Indian Naval Waterman Ship Training Centre, Colaba, Mumbai. Then, he had swam a distance of 6 kms in a span of 1 hour, 40 minutes and 28 seconds, becoming the first paraplegic with 100% disability to do so.
In October 2012, Shaikh participated for the first time in the 7th Maharashtra Paralympic Swimming Championship and won a bronze and silver medal in freestyle and backstroke in Pune.
In December 2012, Shams won bronze in the 12th Para Swimming Championship in Chennai. In 2016, he won four gold medals at a championship in Indore and was also awarded a trophy for the best swimmer.
Shaikh, who is also a mechanical engineer, has worked with Eureka Forbes' customer care unit. At the age of 24, he became associated with a Dadar-based NGO, meant for paraplegic patients.
Shaikh also asserted that people with disabilities need government's support to make spaces, buildings and transportation accessible.