On the evening of 26/11/2008, India woke up to one of the ghastliest terror attacks in the country when a group of terrorists seized the famous Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai and other parts of the city. Hundreds were killed, and over a thousand were left injured. However, our brave security force, valiantly rose to the occasion in counter-terrorism operation and fought for more than two days against the terrorists to rescue over hundreds of people being held hostage at the Taj Hotel.
Praveen Kumar Teotia, an Ex-Marine Commando Force (MARCOS) personnel, was one among the brave army force who bravely fought four terrorists from close quarters in order to protect hundreds of lives.
Teotia was appointed as the ‘Point Man’ of the second team. A point man is the first person of the troop who either fires the first shot or takes the first bullet. They took a blind entry into the Taj hotel where he witnessed blood spots and shattered glass everywhere in the lobby.
As he entered the hotel, he found a room which was pitch dark, and looked like a stream of blood. Though their operation was to kill the terrorists, they fell back to rescuing as many as hostages possible. Before Teotia could adjust his eye with the prevailing darkness, he was shot with an AK-47.
Blood started flowing from his neck and he had to lose his ear in the brutal gunshot. However, Teotia valiantly decided to face the enemy. He took four bullets — one went right through his chest breaking four ribs of his right lung. Another went through his bulletproof collar, one bullet cut through his bulletproof plate and the other ricocheted off a wall onto his heart. Teotia was successful in injuring one terrorist and keeping them engaged as his team got ready outside of the room.
Teotia’s real battle had just started after the 26/11 battle was over. He miraculously survived lung damage and stayed in ICU for 19 days, but nobody came to meet me. He had to seek financial aid and help from the Taj Welfare Trust. His promotions were stopped, and he was no longer considered useful. He, however, did not give up.
A new journey opened up for him as he started running, swimming, cycling and went on to win the prestigious Ironman Triathlon Championship in April 2018 in South Africa, which involves 3.86km swim, a 180.25km bicycle ride and a 42.2km running. He completed the race in 14 hours, 19 minutes and 38 seconds. Praveen cycled for 180.2 km, ran for 42.2 km, and swam for 3.86 km, to finish the event successfully.
In 2017, Teotia conquered the Khardung La Challenge, which is a 72-km marathon in Ladakh and arguably one of the toughest marathons in the world.
Praveen was trained by Kaustubh Radkar, who is a certified triathlon coach, having finished Ironmans till date. Quitting his job as security personnel at the Taj Group, Praveen consulted Radkar to be trained by him in Goa
His victory, however, did not come easy. The derailleur of his cycle broke down, forcing him to cycle uphill for the remaining 70 km with an injured knee and ankle. He suffered, his leg bleeding while he ran.
He participated in the Ironman World Championship in October, a triathlon event in New York covering swimming for a distance of 3.86 km, cycling to cover 180 km and run to cover 42.2 km. Praveen did the unthinkable when he stood back stronger even after the doctors gave up on him.