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#MarkInglis: Meet the double-amputee mountaineer inspiring a new generation of Indian leaders


The rain's lashing down virtually horizontally in London and the temperature is hovering just above freezing but Mark Inglis is clad in shorts and an alarmingly light shirt.

He's strutting around the lobby of an East London hotel, apparently showing off his high-tech, carbon-fibre prosthetic legs like a peacock displaying its feathers during mating season.

I'm slightly bemused and - having lived in London for too long - cynical about such overt displays of "different ability", especially in a world where the gap between the abilities of the able-bodied and those that are disabled is being bridged faster than you can say Oscar Pistorius.

But, it seems, there's a sound reason for waltzing around in shorts on a cold, wet February day in London.

The 53-year-old double amputee explains - as he's been forced to do a number of times while in London - that the shorts make it easier for him to adjust the receptacles of his prosthetic limbs, an adjustment that is frequently required as both his legs were amputated below the knee.

New Zealand-born Inglis has been battling my kind of cynicism since first losing his limbs more than 30 years ago.

An accomplished climber from a young age, Inglis had been working as a search-and-rescue mountaineer since the late 1970's.

In 1982, Inglis and his climbing partner became stranded on Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest peak, after a blizzard. The pair took shelter in a snow cave for 13 freezing days with both men suffering extensive frostbite. Inglis lost both his legs.

It was a devastating blow for a man for whom mountaineering and the great outdoors represented everything.

Undaunted by his disability however, Inglis went away to work on other things, becoming a Leukaemia researcher after earning a degree in Human Biochemistry and later applying his scientific knowledge to becoming an expert winemaker.

He also became a Paralympian, winning a cycling silver medal for New Zealand at the 2000 Sydney Games.

The mountains however, kept calling and in 2002, twenty long years after his accident, Inglis once again conquered Mount Cook.

And he kept climbing.

Four years later at the grand old age of 47, Inglis became the first ever double amputee to reach the summit of Mount Everest, an extraordinary feat of physical and mental endurance that - despite being overshadowed by a controversy over the fate of British climber David Sharp - Sir Edmund Hillary described as "remarkable".

Since his ascent of Everest, Inglis has used his achievements to inspire others, travelling the world as a motivational speaker and leadership guru: arguably one of the most qualified in a world chock-full of motivational speakers and leadership gurus.

He is particularly sought after in India, a country on a constant search for leaders to shepherd in the right direction its seemingly infinite human and natural resources.

I caught up with Mark Inglis for a chat about climbing, India, the difference between leadership and management and Rahul Dravid.

(With apologies to accountants and the poor video quality owing to an overzealous lighting engineer).

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