The trick is simple that is to hold each other's hands while walking and running and see that their feet match with their steps
Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - A blindfold is fastened onto the head of Muhammad Dimas Ubaidillah, a blind athlete representing Central Java's contingent in the men’s T11 400 m athletics during the National Paralympics Week (Peparnas) XVI hosted in Papua.

A rope, tied around Dimas' hand, is tethered to a man that will accompany him at all times during the games, either while walking to the race track or during his run. The man, whose hand is bound to that of Dimas, confidently sprints in unison with him once the referee shouts the command to start the run.

The T11 category is for athletes with visual impairment that compete in the Paralympic competitions. Athletes classified under the T11 group are considered to have complete vision loss, thereby necessitating a guide to accompany them while competing in the games.

Even with no visual input, Dimas exudes confidence in every step and swiftly accelerates his run on the race track. Fortunately, Dimas' guide could balance his pace by exerting an equal amount of power as him. During that run, Dimas and his guide secured first place and bagged a gold medal in the number.

Dimas, born in Kendal, Central Java in April 2003, successfully recorded a run time of 55.55 seconds during the games, thereby breaking the 56.53-second Peparnas record earlier set by Rully Alkahfi Mubarok during his run in the Peparnas’ 2016 edition.

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It is not an exaggeration if one were to attribute Dimas' gold to the guide runner, who helped him during his Peparnas debut, as he had led him to the race track and until crossing the finish line and assisted him to stand on the medal podium.

The guide runner, who helped Dimas win his gold medal in the Peparnas, is Sika Uddin. An experienced guide runner, Uddin had earlier assisted other national athletes before being paired with Dimas for the current Peparnas games.

“I was Mubarok’s guide runner during the national intensive training programme for the 2020 ASEAN Para Games,” Uddin, who was born in Surakarta in December 1996, proudly proclaimed.

Uddin had just been paired with Dimas for only three months after being redirected to support the Central Java contingent for the Peparnas games, as the ASEAN Para Games stood cancelled owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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An injury turned him to help para-athletes

The contingent officials decided that Uddin would best suit Dimas, with a tall physique and height of 180 centimetres, as their body structure was similar. Uddin’s experience in athletic sports was also an added advantage that better suited the athlete.

“Experience in relevant sports is one main prerequisite for runner guides,” Uddin pointed out.

Uddin then recalled that he was once an aspirant artistic gymnastic athlete while studying at the Sebelas Maret University, Surakarta, but during a training accident in 2017, he suffered an injury. The accident demotivated Sika from continuing his athletic career.

After recovering from the debilitating accident, instead of continuing his sports career as an athlete, Uddin decided to join the Indonesian National Paralympic Committee (NPC) centred in Surakarta and took up the job of a guide runner to assist para-athletes.

Helping para-athletes deliver their finest performance is now Uddin’s personal crusade.

“I was personally motivated to help para-athletes perform in competitions in Indonesia and on the international stage to make our nation proud,” the runner guide stated.

Apart from declaring full commitment to supporting Indonesian para-athletes by serving as their guide, Uddin still hones his skills in athletics by participating in the men’s relay in the 2018 Central Java Province Games. He is currently also preparing himself to participate in the men’s 100 m, 200 m, and relay numbers in the provincial games’ 2022 edition.

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Perfecting the pair’s chemistry

While athletes are striving to enhance their performance, guides accompanying them during their performance have an additional task. They not only need to balance their power with the athletes they guide but also need to learn how to direct the athlete and synchronise their movements.

Uddin admitted that while his profession was replete with challenges, a personal approach to para-athletes should be prioritised to perfect the athlete pair’s chemistry.

“The trick is simple that is to hold each other's hands while walking and running and see that their feet match with their steps,” Uddin stated.

Dimas and Uddin only needed to train together for two to three weeks to become accustomed to each other’s sprint style and to enhance the pair’s performance and synchronisation.

Another tip given by Uddin on guide running is to ensure that guide runners must have greater sprint power than the para-athlete itself.

Uddin then revealed that apart from guiding para-athletes during their match, guide runners must also strike a personal friendship with athletes, mingling with them outside the match, and being a sounding board for them. Guide runners must also become the para-athlete’s friends, siblings, or also parents that could provide advice to them.

Personal emotions and mood swings also influence the athletes’ performance during their matches, and guide runners could play their part in improving the athletes’ mood before the match.

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“Dimas was also in a bad mood before our last match, and it is my duty as well to improve his mood and encourage him for the match,” Uddin stated.

Uddin is among multiple runner guides participating in the Peparnas XVI with a bold commitment to assisting para-athletes and helping them to deliver a better performance.

The guide runner certainly finds it difficult to control feelings of joy on learning that the guided athlete won a gold medal and even broke the games’ record, such as the case of Dimas, who broke the Peparnas record during his match.

“Dimas, we have broken Rully’s Peparnas record,” Uddin joyfully told Dimas, who responded with some disbelief on learning about their achievement in Peparnas XVI.

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Translator: Zuhdiar Laeis, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
Copyright © ANTARA 2021