Singapore

Born without arms, para-cyclist leads 270km ride from Malacca to Singapore

Competitive para-cyclist never gave up despite naysayers; leads 270km expedition to raise funds

He was born without full arms but has never seen his disability as a hurdle.

Mr Jagwinder Singh is a competitive cyclist and rides 50km to 80km a day.

His wish? To one day win the Paralympics gold for India.

Hailing from a small village called Pattran, near Patiala in Punjab, Mr Singh was 14 when he learnt to cycle.

His parents bought a bicycle for his sister and watching her cycle inspired him to learn cycling.

"Everyone said it would be impossible to ride without my arms, but I did not want to give up," he said.

He shook his critics off and learnt by himself - at night when everyone was asleep.

"I was sick and tired of people discouraging me from trying what I thought I could succeed at, so I would wait for everyone to sleep before I practised cycling at night," said Mr Singh, who was born with amelia, defined as the complete absence of the skeletal parts of a limb.

"In the beginning, I would rotate the pedals halfway and gradually I learnt to paddle completely."

Soon, he was riding on the streets at high speed.

It gave him a sense of hope that he could do what able-bodied people did regularly.

Today, the 27-year-old has won over 20 awards and medals, participating in state, national and international cycling competitions.

Two of his proudest achievements were winning the state gold medal in a paracycling event organised by the Chandigarh Cycling Association and completing, in nine hours and 15 minutes, a 212km cyclothon organised by the Green Biker Association, Patiala.

His love for cycling and desire to give back to society brought him to Singapore to lead a recent 270km riding expedition called Ride To Serve 2019, organised by the Ride To Serve cycling group in collaboration with the Sikh Welfare Council.

Indian non-profit Aditya Mehta Foundation and a group of friends pooled money to sponsor his trip to Singapore.

He led a group of 38 cyclists from Malacca to Singapore over two days to raise funds for the underprivileged.

Said Mr Ricky Sapuran Singh, who rode with Mr Jagwinder Singh in the charity expedition: "Throughout the ride, he showed no pain and he wasn't tired. I was in awe. He was the fastest among us despite his disability. He was always brimming with positivity and he encouraged me to challenge myself."

During his two-week stay in Singapore, he cycled between five and 15km every morning, passing through Little India, Central Sikh Gurdwara, Plaza Singapura and Marina Bay.

"It was my first time cycling outside India, so I was a bit nervous initially," he said. "The route was very scenic and the people were very nice."

Some motorists and pedestrians even stopped to ask him for selfies and gave him words of encouragement.

While in Singapore, he also visited schools and gave motivational talks to students.

"People will dissuade you and remind you of your shortcomings, but always try to have a positive outlook and believe in your abilities," he said.

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