Heroes of Today: Singapore’s Blade Runner, Shariff Abdullah
In our first ever episode of our new segment, Heroes of Today, our GERTV team had the honour and pleasure of meeting Singapore’s very own Blade Runner, Shariff Abdullah and watched him in action as he did his normal training routine.
Shariff is truly an inspiration.
Handicapped since birth, Shariff endured taunting by other children when he was growing up in his kampung - they poked fun at him, threw stones and even spat at him. Back then, he did not have a prosthetic leg and hopped on one leg as his means of movement. He listed many challenges that he faced during that period of his life. For one, he attributed the different mindset that the people in the past had towards people with disabilities.
Now, Shariff agreed that the perception towards people with disabilities has shifted to a more positive direction.
“In today’s day and age, there are a lot of people with disabilities who strive and put in the effort, despite the many challenges that they go through. They work hard, work independently to get a job to get to the level they are at,” Shariff shared.
And Shariff is a great example of working hard despite his circumstances, showing us all how life is not about the cards you were dealt, but how you play the hand.
In 2008, Shariff had to undergo a leg operation that had truly dampened his spirit. However it was then that he found his life calling - running.
“The pressure, I didn’t know what I was going through. So while I was recovering, I went on YouTube and watched videos of Paralympics, and I found this guy, a world-famous amputee sprinter from South Africa. When I watched him, he sprinted 100 meters, 200 meters, it opened my mind. I thought, wow amazing. If he can do it, why not me?
That was the starting point in his para-athlete journey.
After registering and completing his first run - a 2.4 kilometer charity run at Tampines - he felt the adrenaline and told himself that he should go for the 5 kilometers next. Not long later, he found himself registering for a 15 kilometer run! The more Shariff participated, the more he craved for longer distances. He shared that running has helped him to develop greater mental strength and encourages everyone to make exercising a habit.
Shariff’s achievements are no small feat. Having completed 29 full marathons and six ultra-marathons, Shariff has gone through many different marathons, each presenting their own set of challenges.
For one, his FWD North Pole marathon.
“Running in the North Pole is something different where I took part in the extreme weather - it was minus 35 degrees. It was a great experience - it was the first time I experienced 24 hours of sunlight. And also the challenge of the road - using a prosthetic leg, I needed to run on the snow. But I’m glad that instead of doing a full marathon, I managed to finish the half marathon. It was a great achievement. These experiences really taught me, don’t give up.
Besides his passion for running, Shariff also shared with us that his other joy is in contributing his time and energy in community volunteering efforts.
“I want to do something different. When I see myself, I have less. But I want to make it more so that I can help others and they too can live happily. So by volunteering, it means you spend your time, not financially, but to go and show your support with your two hands, to those who are less privileged. And the moment where we help more, it will be a loving society. I hope that more people will come to donate, be a volunteer and assist. Because the more we assist, the more we can give back to the community together.”
Before we parted ways, we asked Shariff, what keeps him going? This is his advice for us:
“How I overcome running long distances is the challenge. Every time you cross a milestone, you feel great. At 35km, I always tell myself, no matter what kind of challenges I face, what type of bruises I endure, I need to keep on going. I have to keep on going, even if the weather is blistering hot or raining, I have to move on. But the moment you cross that 42.195km, let me tell you, life will change.
So I advise everyone, do your own marathon. Not necessarily to run a full marathon, but your own marathon. Because everyone has a marathon ‘within themselves’. So make it your own marathon and cross the 42.195km mark. It’s all in your mind.”
Be sure to check the first episode of Heroes of Today with Shariff Abdullah on our IGTV!
If you want to be part of the community that gives back, join Global Ehsan Relief’s campaigns by being a volunteer or rendering help financially. Lend a helping hand to the disabled individuals in Singapore by contributing today to Global Ehsan Relief’s Care for the Disabled project.