By CAROLINE TUNG
In April next year, Bobby Bajram will become the oldest person with a disability to attempt to climb Mt Everest.
Bobby, 51, is officially recognised by Fitness First gyms as one of the most extreme athletes in the world.
At 13, he was the youngest person ever in Australia to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Now he hopes to inspire other people around the world with disabilities to live their best life.
“If I wasn’t pointed in the direction of staying in shape and being physical … I would have been dead,” he says. “This journey has been nothing but great and positive.”
Although he says he faces a lot of scepticism, Bobby has already put in the hard yards during a campaign that has lasted seven years.
Between visiting hospitals for medication and coping with constant pain, he trains for 35 hours a week for eight months of the year.
“Bobby’s probably the mentally strongest person I’ve ever met,” Fitness First Victoria manager Chris Pearce says.
Based in Melbourne, Bobby’s daily regimen is structured, beginning at Fitness First in Richmond, then at Bounce in Glen Iris, followed by completing rounds of the Trees Adventure course in Belgrave.
He also regularly trains at Falls Creek in northeastern Victoria to prepare for the climb.
In a statement, Bobby’s neurologist says he discourages Bobby from climbing Mt Everest: “I do not want to get caught up in this dangerous mission of yours.”
Bobby has obtained an official expedition permit from the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation in Nepal, the only person with a disability to do so since a ban was put in place on people with certain disabilities climbing the mountain at the end of last year, he says.
His campaign began with one sponsor, and now has 96 businesses providing free services to help him train for the expedition and support his journey.