"I injured my hand, I lost two fingers in an industrial accident," said Yadav Kunwar, 41, from Nepal, recalling the incident that changed his life while working in South Korea. "When I had that accident, I felt like I lost my life."
Kunwar, a 25-year taekwondo veteran who competed in the 5th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships in Moscow in 2014, recalls how devastating the blow was: For two years, nursing his mutilated hand, he did not practice.
Then - hope.
"I heard about Para-taekwondo," said the trim, tatooed athlete. "When I heard about it, I hoped for a new life in taekwondo."
Indeed, the kick-centric sport is particularly suited for those suffering from upper limb injuries. he said. "Taekwondo plays with the foot, and uses the hand to protect," he said. "I feel like I am not 100 per cent, but that is no problem."
His motivation reborn, Kunwar dived back into his beloved sport and grabbed a bronze in the sparring category at the 4th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships held in Lausanne in 2013. That result made him one of Nepal's highest profile sporting heroes.
Back home in Nepal, taekwondo is well developed. It is the nation's most popular sport, and Kunwar himself is widely featured in national media. Now he is giving back to the sport as a coach, teaching the disabled around the country. In doing so, he hopes that he will no longer be a force of one. "I am the only Nepalese athlete here," he said of the Nepalese contingent in Moscow. "Next time, there will be more."
Taekwondo, which requires neither equipment nor stadium, is well suited to Nepal, he believes. "For taekwondo you don't need a cricket pitch, you can play it in a small room," he said. "It is very easy to play."
Nepal's soaring landscapes might just be the perfect breeding ground for taekwondo athletes, Kunwar reckons. "We are lightweight, high-altitude people," he said; his countrymen's physical combination of agility and leg strength is appropriate for the kick-based combat sport.
He hopes that one day there may be an even bigger event for those who practice Para-taekwondo. "I want to get gold at the Paralympics," he said."I want to be a medalist."