- He was inspired by Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to scale the highest peak of Mt Everest.
- Sidialo had attended the Virginia Rehabilitation Centre for the Blind in America in 2002.
- It was then that he got the motivation to move on.
- His love and passion for sports and adventure helped him through his journey of rehabilitation and he has shone bright since then, going on to break world records.
- He saw a way of making something out of his situation and he embraced it going on to accomplish the impossible by being a blind cyclist.
A sudden loud bang, a chorus of screams and then a cloud of smoke mixed with shrapnel obstructed the morning’s otherwise pleasantly warm sunshine. That cocktail was the last thing Douglas Sidialo literally ever saw.
August 7, 1998 had been an ordinary Friday morning. Douglas, who was a motorbike salesman at the time, was heading to work. He heard a commotion outside the US embassy where the guards seemed to be in disagreement.
“I spotted a truck heading to the gate of the embassy and the guards came out and refused to let it in. We heard a few loud bangs which I thought were gunshots but later learnt were grenades going off.”
He remembers hearing an extremely loud explosion moments later and was roughly thrown to the ground by the impact. Through the commotion, he was lucky enough to be rescued by a Good Samaritan and taken to hospital. He woke up at the hospital with bandages wrapped around his head. He could not see a thing.
He was blind. The terror attack had taken his eyesight.
“I was very bitter and angry when I realised I would never see again. I was in shock and anguish. I felt that if I could find any of those people who had done that, I could kill them.”
It was a very tough time. He was a newly married man and a father of a two-year-old girl that he would never see again. Douglas recalls how overwhelming the feeling of despair was.
But with a strength that may seem supernatural, he rose bravely to tackle the hand fate had dealt him. Down the road he came to realise that bitterness and anger only hindered healing and that was when he decided to accept his blindness as a challenge and picked up the pieces with courage and resilience.