“I would love to complete the London Marathon one day. It’s for everyone… I am everyone, and so I want to do it.” Ram’s life hasnt always been plain sailing but with courage and determination, it’s clear he is succeeding.
Meet Ramanan, a German-born self confessed “Londoner”. Growing up in Munich, Ram was a keen runner and footballer, spoilt by watching the local rivalry between Bayern & Leverkusen. When asked about his interests as a teen, Ram embarrassingly laughed, “What else can I say…? I did nothing else, I loved sport!” Sport was Ram’s life.
However, at the age of 16 his life took an unexpected twist. “I was always out and about, very active and suddenly in the space of a week, I started wobbling and struggled walking, even just walking in a straight line.” Having visited a doctor, taken an MRI scan, Ram was diagnosed with having a brain tumour and needed an operation immediately.
“I was afraid. I was upset. I thought my life was over. The doctors told me I wouldn’t be able to walk again… [silence]… I thought, “What can I do now?”” Fortunately, Ram’s family was incredibly supportive and made a huge decision to all uproot and move to London, where better services for disabled people would be available.
Living in a new city, struggling with poor health as well as having to learn to use a wheelchair, for many years he felt isolated, lacking confidence and didn’t think he would ever be able to enjoy football in the same way again.
17 years later and now 33, Ramanan found the coverage to look for sports activities again.
“I was inspired by watching the Paralympics in 2012, particularly the wheelchair racing. I looked at myself and I thought i could do this. I use a wheelchair now, but that doesn’t mean I suddenly be a wheelchair racer – I knew it would be small steps. I tried to find local activities but really struggled, there was noting suitable out here for me.”
5 years on from the Paralympics, Ram found Community Club Islington, our multi-sports clubs for all disabled people based at Sobell Leisure Centre. He had found a suitable activity and taken a small step, despite the club being a mere 45 minutes and 3 bus journeys away!
Small steps is Ram’s outlook on life now and still has the aspiration to be a wheelchair racer. This year Ram completed Parallel London’s 5k event and doesn’t want to stop there. The Big Half is next up in March 2018 with the London Marathon in sight. “I would love to complete the London Marathon one day. It is very close to me, a huge event and it’s for everyone… I am everyone, and so i want to do it.”
The ultimate goal however, is independence. Ram wants to be completely independent again and feels sport is a great way to achieve it. “I try to be active to be fitter, healthier but I want to be independent. I want to do things for myself. Sport is a great way to learn about what you can do, and release what you are able to do.”
We applaud Ramanan for his courage and determination. We wish him every success with his wheelchair racing ambition and hope joining Club Islington was a vital small step in the right direction.