YMCA Strong Ambassador With Prosthetic Leg Conquers Spartan Race


YMCA Strong Ambassador Shanmuganathan (left) with Steve Loh, General Secretary & CEO, YMCA of Singapore.

Countless men have fallen to the renowned Spartan Race, known to be among the world’s most strenuous obstacle races. Yet, with a prosthetic leg, 55-year-old S Shanmuganathan, a YMCA International House special needs staff, conquered his first race in January and returned to conquer his second challenge on 27 April.

Spartan Race’s intense obstacles push the body and mind to their limits, involving mud, barbed wires and even fire. In the upcoming race, he will face 20 obstacles over 5 kilometres in a race that Spartan Race organisers call “life-changing”.

Shanmuganathan remembers his first race “wasn’t easy”, but he took deep breaths and finished the race at his own pace. He recalls how other athletes helped to push him up a steep slope, so he could overcome the obstacle despite his fatigue.

“The able-bodied athletes gave me pats on the back and seemed motivated by me, saying that if someone like me could do it, they can do it too! We all need to support one another,” he said.

Despite a rainy morning, muddy terrain and even having his prosthetic leg fall off during an obstacle mid-race, the YMCA International House Staff remained unfazed. After re-attaching it, Shanmuganathan persisted and completed the race alongside fellow colleagues and YMCA special needs clients. The first-ever special needs Spartan Race in January had received such overwhelmingly positive response that twice the number of clients, including students from APSN Katong School and Rainbow Centre, participated this time, as part of the Y Camp Challenge.

Outside of the Spartan Race, Shanmuganathan believes in active living and participates in a range of sports. He participated in lawn bowling with the Singapore Disability Sports Council and has represented Singapore in international competitions, coming in second at the Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Open Championship for the Disabled 2018 and the 1st Merlion International Lawn Bowls Championship for the Disabled 2016.

“From the day of my amputation, I told myself not to give up. People with special needs are capable too, if they change their mindsets and believe in themselves. Getting over the fear of falling is the first step to achieving. I want to encourage people with special needs to overcome their fears and bravely pursue what they wish to do,” said Shanmuganathan.


Contributed by Sim Yu Xiang

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