Mark Pollock, the man who created a milestone by becoming the first blind person to reach the South Pole
Can you imagine a morning, when you wake up to find yourself completely blind? What would you do? May be you will lose all hope in your life. But nothing could stop one young man from achieving his goal and becoming the first blind man to reach the South Pole. Mark Pollock, who was a normal guy just like us until the age of 22, when one morning he woke up in his hospital bed to find himself completely blind. But Mark decided to keep moving. He never let his disability to be an obstacle in his life. Mark Pollock dared to dream to walk across the South Pole.
Pollock was born to Barbara and Johnny in 1976. Since childhood, he had problems in both of his retinas. At the age of 5, he lost the sight of his right eye. Pollock has been fully blind since the age of 22, when his retinas became detached partially due to the injury he had previously sustained.
Mark studied at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, where he was a keen rower as well. Later he went to study Business and Economics in Trinity College, Dublin, where he became a champion in school’s rowing competition and was the captain of the university’s rowing club. Later, on confirmation of his blindness, college awarded him with an honorary degree.
After the complete blindness, Mark enrolled in a course to help himself to cope-up with his blindness. Mark Pollock returned to professional rowing and in 2002 Commonwealth Rowing Championships, he won bronze and silver medals for Northern Ireland. In 2003, he ran six marathons in just seven days with a sighted partner, across the Gobi Desert, China and raised money for the charity Sightsavers International. On the sixth anniversary of his blindness, i.e. on 10 April 2004, he competed in the North Pole Arctic Marathon.
Before making it to the South Pole, he spent a year trying different extreme sports. Also, in order to acclimatize himself to the polar sastrugi, he started spending five hours daily, pounding the streets with his father, dragging two tractor tyres behind him. After a rigorous training, finally Pollock headed towards South Pole. For over 43 days, Mark Pollock and his team travelled 770 Km, dragging 90 kilo sleds behind them, finally reaching South Pole.
In July 2010 Mark Pollock suffered from another calamity in his life, when he broke his back after falling from a second storey window and was left paralysed. Now he is trying to overcome this second storm. Mark has also authored his book ‘Making It Happen‘, which describes about his struggle with his blindness. Mark Pollock, the adventurer, rower, athlete, kayaker, author and international motivational speaker may lack eye-sight, but it was his vision and positive attitude towards everything, which led him to live a significant life.
Image courtesy: Stewart Turkington