Arunima Sinha is not only a mountaineer but also a sportswoman. She is the first female amputee who has been successful in feats of some of the tallest mountains in the world, which includes all of the seven summits. Climbing even some of the not-so-tall mountains can be a great challenge when your bodily parts are not in your favor, let alone Mount Everest. However, Sinha made it possible to climb the tallest peak in the whole world despite being an amputee. Not only this, she has also been known for her volleyball career, in which she has been equally excellent. Arunima is not only an inspiration to amputees who are looking to break stereotypes but also to those who are looking to beat the odds and achieve what is thought to be impossible in the minds of others.
Arunima had to get amputated when she was pushed from a running train by robbers. The incident took place in 2011. Sinha tried her best to resist the push, but it only resulted in a damaged and fractured spinal cord and rods pushed into her left leg. Dr Arunima Sinha is truly inspirational, and there is so much to know about her. Make sure to read till the end of this article to go through Arunima Sinha’s life, her achievements, and everything else you need to know!
Who is Dr Arunima Sinha?
Dr Arunima Sinha, born on 20 July 1989 in Ambedkar Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, India, is an Indian sportsman, mountaineer, motivational speaker, and a former seven-time volleyball player. Sinha was born to an Indian Army father and a health department supervisor mother. Besides the parents, there were an elder sister and a younger brother. Her father died early on in her life. Hence, her mother became the sole provider to the family. Growing up, she was very fond of sports, especially football. Later on, Sinha developed a love for volleyball as well.
Besides being a sportsman, Arunima dreamed of being a part of the paramilitary forces. The time she got a letter from the CISF was the time that tragically changed her life forever. She is best known for her strong willpower to follow her passions and dreams rather than going along with what society has always expected of her. One of the main reasons why Sinha is so popular among those in the sports and mountaineering community is that she is an amputee. As an amputee, she climbed Mount Everest and became a seven-time volleyball player.
After having gotten the letter from CISF, she was on a train when some robbers snatched her purse. In an attempt to save herself, she got severely fractured, multiple spinal cords and a rod stabbed in her left leg. Sinha was pushed from the train and run over by another train that came after. Thankfully, some locals helped her out of the train track on time and rushed her to the hospital.
What happened to Dr Arunima Sinha?
Dr Arunima Sinha had always been one to be motivated to join the paramilitary forces. She was close to her dreams when she got a letter from the CISF or the Central Industrial Security Force to attempt an examination. Unfortunately for her, she got her date of birth wrong and had to get it rectified as soon as she could, for which she had to rush to Delhi. After all, she wanted to seize the opportunity as she and her family had always faced hardships. Despite all the difficulties in life, Sinha’s family had always supported her.
On 12 April 2011, she got on the Padmavati Express train from Lucknow to Delhi. A bunch of robbers had their eyes on her gold chain and purse from the start. This encouraged them to snatch it and push her off the train. The rest is history. She got her knees crushed by another train that was coming from the back of the train she was pushed from.
Talking about her life-altering experience, Sinha says,
“I resisted, and they pushed me out of the train. I could not move. I remember seeing a train coming towards me. I tried getting up. By then, the train had run over my leg. I don’t remember anything after that.”
After getting rushed to the hospital, the doctors had to get her legs amputated for the sake of her life. It is unfortunate that she also got her pelvic and spinal cord irreparably damaged after the accident. There was no coming back to her older form. The Indian Sports Ministry showed their empathy by offering a compensation of INR 25,000 (US$310). The people in the country were not happy with either the amount or the gesture. After the outrage, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Ajay Maken added Rs.200,000 (US$2,500) to the compensation in the name of medical relief. She was also recommended for a job in the CISF. The Indian Railways made sure to offer her a decent job as well.
She spent four months at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences following her treatment, which also led to her getting a prosthetic leg. She did not have to pay for the prosthetic as the costs were covered by a private Delhi-based Indian company.
There was, however, another unfortunate event that struck Arunima’s life. She was accused by the police, upon an inquiry, of attempting suicide from the train or having met an accident. Sinha was devastated by the accusation and claimed that the police were lying. This further led to the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court ordering the Indian Railways to compensate the victim with INR 500,000 (US$6,300).
Arunima Sinha Mount Everest Journey
After getting her left leg amputated, society saw Arunima as a victim. She was no less than a mere vegetable to them after the tragic incident. The false claims from the police, having stated that she attempted suicide, had gone overboard, and everyone kept asking her for the truth, which in itself was tiring. Arunima really did not want her disability to be her weakness. Talking to everyone with words did not quite seem fruitful, as did proving them wrong with her actions.
Fate had greater things in store for her because she came across an article about Mount Everest when she was in the hospital bed. She learned about the 15 routes connected to Everest and expressed her strong desire to climb the mountain to her brother-in-law. Needless to say, he was skeptical about her decision. But he was also the one to let her know that there weren’t any females who had ever climbed the mountain with a prosthetic leg. This was enough to lighten a spark in her. She was absolutely sure what she wanted to do by then.
She said in an interview with Physiotimes,
“Yes, I had many options of choosing something easier, but Mount Everest is a game where you can develop your self-confidence, and I wanted to do that. Also, I converted my weakness into my strength. Every girl cannot climb Everest to prove herself right. But for me, it was never a choice. The public imagination had reduced me to either a victim or an attempted suicide case. This was the only way I could reclaim my voice. When I tried to tell my doctors about my plan, there were two reactions.”
“ If I tried to discuss my plan with anyone, either I was laughed off or told that trauma had affected my mental health adversely. Usually, amputee patients take months, or even years, to get accustomed to their prosthetic limbs. I walked in two days. The mind holds tremendous sway over the body. Once I had decided that this is what I would do, I let nothing get the better of me.”
Arunima Sinha’s final push to Mount Everest
Cricketer Yuvraj Singh greatly influenced Arunima’s life since he also battled with cancer and did great in his career. She did great in the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi, where she got her training. The institute taught her everything that a beginner should know. Her mother was greatly encouraging for her to climb the Everest as well. The prosthetic leg she used during her climb was funded by the help of a swami of Ramakrishna Mission, Vadodara.
Bachendri Pal, the first woman to climb Mount Everest, caught up with her before her climb. Sinha recalls her saying,
“My child, you decided to climb Mount Everest in these situations with a Prosthetic (Artificial) leg. You had climbed and achieved Mount Everest, my child. Now, just the date remaining to the World to know”.
Arunima joined Nehru Institute of Mountaineering and TATA Steel Adventure (TSAF) in Uttarkashi (India) for her basic training and went on to climb the rather famous Island Peak (6150 meters) in 2012. This mountain was her training to climb the Mount Everest. Susan Mahout, a USAF instructor, later joined her to climb Mount Chaser Sangria (6,622 meters or 21,726 feet) in 2012. They were together guided by Hendrick Pal to climb Mount Everest.
On May 21, 2013, Sinha reached the summit after 17 hours of moving forward the mountain in the Tata Group-sponsored Eco Everest Expedition. It was not easy for her to push her limits as a woman without a real leg. It took her a total of 52 days to get to the summit. But once she had reached her destination, she knew she had the God to thank. In a small cloth, she wrote a note to the Almighty and pressed in on the snow there. She also thanked Shankara Bhagawan and Swami Vivekananda for providing her with both inspiration and courage in her life.
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Also, read this next:
- Tom Whittaker: First Disabled Person To Climb Mount Everest
- Conrad Anker: Prolific Mountaineer Who Discovered George Mallory’s Remains
- Tamae Watanabe: Oldest Woman to Climb Mount Everest
- Jean-Marc Boivin: First Person To Paraglide From Everest Summit
- Davo Karničar: First Full Ski Descents From Both Annapurna & Everest
What happened to Arunima Sinha after climbing Mount Everest?
Arunima Sinha, after her successful climb to Mount Everest, has since climbed all seven summits in the world, including peaks in Asia, Europe, South America, Australia, Africa, and North America by 2014. The mountaineer also expedited through mountains like Mount Elburs of Russia (Europe) and Kilimanjaro of Tanzania(Africa). On January 4, 2019, Sinha was able to climb the seventh peak in Antarctica, Mount Vision, which, again, made her the first female amputee to do so.
She has been working actively for the welfare of people with disabilities. Sinha has also forever expressed her desire to open a sports association for the sake of people with disabilities who are also looking to find their spark in the field while defying the odds just like she did. Arunima has also been actively donating aid for the same cause that she has been gaining through awards and seminars as a motivational speaker. Sinha even has a name decided for the institution, which is likely to be Shaheed Chandra Shekhar Vikalang Khel Academy if she ever fulfills her goal.
Speaking of what happened as soon as she succeeded in the climb, she got handed over two cheques of INR 25 lakh in an event organized at her house in Lucknow by the then chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. The cheque included Rs. 20 lakh and Rs. 5 Lakh from the state government and the BJP Party, respectively. She has also been able to write a book called Born Again on The Mountain, which was released in 2014.
Sinha holds a Padma Shri, which is the fourth-highest civilian award in India. She is also the holder of the Tenzing Norgay Highest Mountaineering Award, which is equivalent to the Arjun Award in India.
— NITI Aayog (@NITIAayog) August 30, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions about Dr. Arunima Sinha(FAQ)
What did Arunima do after she reached the summit?
Arunima placed the flag of India on the summit as soon as she reached there.
When did Arunima reach the summit of Mount Everest?
Arunima reached the summit of Mount Everest on 21 May 2013 at 10.55 am.
How did Bachendri Pal encourage Arunima?
Bachendri Pal, being the first woman to climb Mount Everest, encouraged Arunima after she was contacted before climbing the mountain.
What happened to Arunima Sinha?
Arunima Sinha was pushed from a moving train by robbers in an attempt to steal her purse and gold chain.
Why did the Sherpa ask Arunima to return before reaching the peak?
The Sherpas, on her way to the top, asked her to return as the oxygen cylinders were not adequate to keep her safe through the summit.