Life is little bit tough for me,
but I have to keep on running…
When you cross the finishing line, you get the Singapore Flag, It’s something amazing. This is a history I have done something for Singapore, do something for the people around.
Life is a black box, if you have negative mindset, the box is all darkness; You have to break the box and find your own way; Once you break the box, you can see sunshine and hope.
Play Video: The story of Shariff Abdullah, Singapore Blade Runner
Shariff completed an incredible feat of 29 international marathons, six ultra-marathons and three extreme marathons – on just one leg.
Life was a bumpy ride for Shariff.
On 10th November 1968 at a Malay kampong here in Singapore, baby Shariff came to this world. However, his birth did not bring much joy as he was born without a left leg.
In his adolescent years, Shariff learned to walk with a limp on his broken leg and would sometimes resort to crawling. Villagers living in the kampong 40 years ago can superstitious, many viewed his disability as a sign of an ill omen. They spat and threw stones at him and even hurled humiliating insults at the kid. Shariff’s mother separated with his father soon enough and left the kampong. When his father works in the day, his foster mother would confine Shariff at home with a chain in fear that he might get into trouble.
At the age of seven, Shariff’s father gifted him with a basic prosthetic leg, and he was finally able to attend school like a normal child. Just as life started getting back on track, eight-year-old Shariff became an orphan, after both his father and foster mother passed away. He was made to stay with the relatives of his foster mother, where he was kicked around like a ball from one place to another. He began to live a life full of fear and uncertainty.
As time went by, Shariff continued to face many hardships as he stepped out to the society with his physical handicap. He had to conceal the broken leg with long trousers before securing his first job at Changi Airport Terminal 1. Shariff worked hard and rose to a managerial position from a junior cleaner. At the age of 24, under the introduction of a friend, he met a beautiful lady and fell in love. After marriage, they were blessed with three beautiful daughters. Shariff continued to be diligent at work to support his family living in a big house filled with love.
With his loving wife and daughters by his side, life seemed easy and carefree for Shariff. Yet, things took a turn one day in 2008. Shariff’s left leg contracted an infection due to prolonged hours of wearing prosthetics, which necessitated an immediate 5-inch amputation. The disturbing news was a bolt from the blue which crushed Shariff almost instantly. It shattered the facade he had been putting on in front of people, as he could no longer lead a life where he could pretend to be an able-bodied person.
The nightmares of his childhood creeped back. Unpleasant memories of stones, spit and vicious slurs thrown at Shariff eventually broke him. He could no longer hide his missing leg behind his trousers. What little he had – his job, family, a life at ease – could all disappear in an instant.
Shariff was engulfed in misery and depression following the amputation surgery. As his eyes fell on his pants, he felt numb. “How to end my life …” were the words he keyed into his computer. It was by pure coincidence that a video of Oscar Pistorius, a para-athlete, flashed across his screen. Out of curiosity, Shariff continued looking up on this athlete and terms like “Blade Runner”, “the world’s fastest limbless man” filled the search results.
“Blade Runner”, was almost like the light at the end of a seemingly endless tunnel for Shariff. “I can run as well”, was the thought that lifted him up once again.
Shariff made a life-changing decision to embrace this world and give it another shot.
He made plans to achieve his ultimate goal. His recuperation period was set to be at least a year, yet Shariff took his first sprint at Yishun Stadium just three months later in his new prosthetic leg. Friction between the artificial device and his wounded, tender skin caused abrasion and he would bleed with every stride. Even so, Shariff felt empowered and alive. He did not bow down to obstacles this time. Distances of a mere 100m, soon turned into 200m and so on…
Shariff completed the first marathon of his life at a 2.5km charity run. He then participated in the Sundown Marathon where he completed 5km in just 26 minutes. With practise, running became a breeze for Shariff and he fell in love with sprinting on one prosthetic leg. In 2009, he ran the Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon, completing his first 42.195km in seven hours.
Shariff was invited to run one of the world’s toughest extreme marathons, the North Pole Marathon, in 2018. He completed it with tenacity and was the first “Blade Runner” in the world to do so. As he stood at the finish line waving the Singapore flag, he found the meaning to life.
Shariff is an inspiration and his story inspired many. He began receiving endorsements and race offers from major sports brands, and in numerous charity runs to raise money for the underprivileged. He participated Relay Majulah to raise funds for 67 charities supported by President’s Challenge in 2019.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the world confronted with the impact of an economic recession, and some people were depressed and even suicidal from the bleak future brought about by the outbreak. Shariff was invited by various organisations to motivate the community because he, for one, understands what optimism can mean to a person. He was more than willing to lend a help to those in need and rebuild their confidence in life.
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