“Ex-Navy commando, disabled after 26/11, finishes 72km Ladakh marathon to prove he is fit”
- Disabled after 26/11, Teotia was reassigned to the rank of petty officer.
- He applied for a Navy mountaineering expedition. But was rejected on medical grounds.
- Teotia decided to prove he was fit enough and with the help of marathon runner Pervin Batliwala, he started training for long-distance runs.
32-year-old Shaurya Chakra winner and former Marine commando took four bullets during the operation to neutralize terrorists at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai in November 2008.
Hit in the lung and in an ear, he became partially hearing impaired. After being given a non-active duty job by the Navy, Teotia set about trying to prove that he was still fit for service, and began participating in marathons. On September 9, despite a damaged lung, he participated in the gruelling 72km-long Khardung La marathon in Ladakh, and finished well within the stipulated time, earning a medal.
“After I was shot, doctors had given up on me. But I hung on for five months in the hospital and recovered, although my hearing was impaired,” said Teotia, from Bhatola village in Bulandshahr.
Since according to Navy Order 9/11, 5% of battlefield casualties can continue in service, Teotia was reassigned to the rank of petty officer. Aware that he couldn’t be a commando again, but not wanting a desk job, he applied for a Navy mountaineering expedition, but was rejected on medical grounds. Teotia decided to prove that he was fit enough. Through supportive Taj hotel staff, he met marathon runner Pervin Batliwala, who encouraged him to start training for long-distance runs.
“I have met very few with such willpower. Finishing Khardung La is no child’s play. I did it last year. The oxygen levels are low and it is doubly difficult for someone with a damaged lung. To do so well is a stupendous achievement,” said Batliwala.
In 2014, Teotia began marathon training. In 2015, he ran the Mumbai Half Marathon under a different name because he was not sure how the Navy would react if he had failed. In 2016, he ran in the Indian Navy Half Marathon. In March this year, he participated in the Half Iron Man Triathlon in Jaipur, which involves a 1.9km swim, 90km bicycling and a 21km run.