I hope after I die, I leave a legacy and whoever comes to meet me, realises that life should be lived to the fullest, Sarmad Tariq is reported to have said.
The life coach, motivational speaker, athlete and writer passed away following illness at the Combined Military Hospital in Rawalpindi on Wednesday. He was 38.
Known fondly as “Chairman,” Tariq was the most free-spirited individual you would chance upon in a wheelchair. The physical limitation was but only another challenge that he turned around into his greatest strength.
Tariq authored a book and had an active online presence. He held an MBA in Marketing and Human Resource Management and was on the panel of various organisations, including multinationals as a speaker and trainer.
In 2004, he drove 1,847 kilometres non-stop from Khyber to Karachi in a hand-controlled car. He set a world record by being the first ever quadriplegic to cover the distance in 33 hours. The drive aimed at raising awareness on the latent potential of physically-challenged.
He was the first-ever Pakistani wheelchair-bound athlete to complete a full marathon in Lahore, a distance of 42.192 kilometres and he was the only wheelchair-bound athlete to represent Pakistan and complete the New York City Marathon in November 2005.
On May 21, it would have been exactly 23 years since the fateful accident that left him paralysed neck down. “But there was no looking back for him,” said his brother-in-law Faisal. “He was truly inspirational and left a legacy for all of us to follow. It is an irreparable loss.”
Photojournalist Mobeen Ansari said, “He was a friend and he was a part of my book too. I have challenges as well and seeing him inspired me.”
Meanwhile, condolence messages have started pouring in on social media. Louis J Pinto better known as Gumby, musician, posted on his Facebook page, “A sad day for all of those who were friends, relatives, associates and well-wishers of Sarmad Tariq. He was a friend, an inspiration to me and a lot of people and will always continue to be.”
Speaking to The Express Tribune, he said, “People like him are a perfect example of social awareness in the country.”
Zainab Omar, friend and private art gallery owner, said “Although it wasn’t a surprise since I found out that he was critical yesterday (it is still tragic news.) He has been released.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2014.