Khalid Oshman: Sri Lanka’s First Blind Triathlete
Khalid Oshman stands as an inspirational symbol for humankind around the globe. Having lost his eyesight, Khalid has placed his bets, against all odds, that he will not only survive the trials he is faced with but that he will fiercely succeed despite them.
Sans his eyesights, sans having ever been in the ocean, Khalid outdid himself at every turn having cycled from the East of Sri Lanka to the West, and from North to South; he is an IRONMAN 70.3 in Colombo and Goa; has completed 3 full marathons (42.2KM) in Colombo, Paris and Singapore; and is managing several charity programmes.
Khalid was born in Kuwait and grew up as an orphan for the first three  years of his life, and was later adopted into a middle-income Sri Lankan family. It was here that Khalid finally felt at home, amongst his adoptive parents and three  siblings. “As a child and young adult, I was obedient, agreeable and very shy. I wasn’t much of an athlete. I didn’t speak much and just really did what I was asked of.” Khalid explained.
Khalid continued to be a doting son, brother and friend to those in his close circle and worked hard throughout his career never realising his own potential for greatness. “I took certain things for granted, like my eyesight!” Khalid jokes. “You don’t realise what you are blessed with until you lose it.”
When being in the company of Khalid it is hard not to be inspired and be in awe of his perseverance and sheer will to do better and be better, but it is even harder to not be captivated by his outgoing, witty and playful personality. Khalid admits “I was never this friendly or forward. I think losing my eyesight made me more confident in a way. It has made me bolder, whilst also making me thankful for the new experiences I am able to master with the help of my friends and coaches.”
It was at the age of 26 years, whilst working for the Sri Lankan Red Cross as a First Aid Coordinator Khalid lost his eyesight due to medical malpractice, forever changing the life path he had set out on. Khalid admits that he struggled with the loss of his sight and even contemplated taking his own life at one point. It was with the assistance of his family that he slowly picked himself out of the emotional and mental turmoil he was facing and began on his long journey to reinvent himself. Khalid believes he was able to overcome more visual challenges than those born with blindness, as he had already experienced the world through his eyes. However, he faced his own challenges as he had to now navigate the world he once knew, without his eyes.
It didn’t take long for Khalid to push his own limits that he decided it was time for him in his mid-thirties to learn to swim. It was during this time that he learnt of the Ironman 70.3 triathlon and set his sights on becoming a viable competitor. Initially, his coaches feared that Khalid may be unable to train and compete due to the physical and mental strain of the sport, but soon realised that the soon-to-be Ironman 70.3 was made of the strongest iron they had ever seen.
Speaking with his coaches it is apparent as to how his story and perseverance has changed the lives of so many around him. Denis Crassier and Mithun Liyanage – Co-Founders of Endurance Lab noted “Khalid has changed our lives. He says we changed his, but in truth, he has done more for us than we could have done for him. The discipline, trust and perseverance Khalid has shown in order to compete at this level is no less than outstanding. When you get to know his story, you see life from a different perspective. When you learn of all his accomplishments and everything he has had to and will most probably have to overcome, you begin to realise the value in every moment and in determination.”
“It has been an uphill climb throughout, but I want to show the world that I [a blind athlete] can compete alongside fully-abled athletes and that the world offers opportunities, not just challenges. We just need to be willing to take the plunge” Oshman concluded.
Khalid jokes that he would like to try cross-country skiing as well as start kick-boxing, and we at the Entrepreneur believe wholeheartedly that this young man can accomplish absolutely anything he sets his mind to.