Rajinder Singh Rahelu: The Powerful


Blog by: Raj Kishan

Stephen Covey, American keynote speaker, said, “ Just as we develop our physical muscle through overcoming opposition- such as lifting weights- we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.” If you have to excel, you have to overcome your trails. This goes for everything, be it for the physical growth or the mental excellence. You just have to lift yourself up!

Speaking of lifting, our hero, Rajinder Singh Rahelu, Indian Paralympics powerlifter, illustrates what Stephen Covey means. Rajinder Singh Rahelu is an example of iron will.

Born in a small Mehsampur village, Jalandhar district, Punjab, Rajinder Singh Rahelu, had a difficult childhood. Being youngest of the five siblings, in a poor family, has its costs, but to top that, he contracted with polio when he was just 8 months old. He suffers with infantile paralysis. For most of us, this would be a huge set-back as the feeling of being disabled and handicapped severely attacks our mindset and starts dictating our actions. But not in the case of Rahelu.

His family was unable to afford a wheelchair, most of the times, Rajinder use to crawl using his hands wherever he had to go other times his father or brother would carry him on their shoulders. Can you imagine? A person who was carried went on to lift tens of weight!

Having been introduced to powerlifting by a fellow friend, Rahelu caught on to the sport real quick.
“My friend Surinder Singh Rana is a power lifter. One day without letting me know he made me lift 70kgs. And then he said that if I can lift 70kgs on the first day then with a little bit of hard work I am capable of qualifying for the Punjab games.” he says. Started from the bottom, and went on to lift 180kgs to secure silver medal in Men’s Para power lifting at Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

He has long list of achievements .Rajinder won his first title in 1997 at Punjab Open Meet, then went on to win National powerlifting Championship in Hyderabad, in the year 1998. It was just the start, in 2004 at Summer Paralympics in Athens he went on to win a bronze medal, where he competed in the 56 kg category, thereby, becoming the first Indian ever to claim a Paralympic medal in his sport. For his feat, in 2006, he was honoured with the Arjuna Award, one of India’s highest sport awards. He won Silver medal in CWG in Glasgow in 2014. Other feats include; representing India at Paralympics 2004, 2008 and 2012, representing India at Commonwealth Games 2006, 2010 and 2014 and he has been Strongman of India 7 times.

Now 44, married to Jaswinder Kaur and blessed with a daughter, the champion powerlifter Rahelu, is now inspiring and coaching specially-abled powerlifters in Punjab. The man’s story is an inspiration to each and every youngster. He is the personification of mental and physical strength.

We should learn from him, don’t let your trails blow you down, let them lift you up!