Did you know that India competed at ‘Racewalking’ at the Rio Olympics?
Did you know that a guy who works part-time as a waiter in the holy land of Badrinath represented India in this competition along with 6 others?
Did you know that this guy bested previous Olympic Gold Medal winners in the competition?
Did you know that after the final whistle, he placed at Number 13 and missed the bronze medal by less than a minute’s difference?
Yes, his name is Manish Singh Rawat and he is the hero we need to know about!
Rawat, who practised with torn shoes in the Himalayan terrain had to juggle several jobs in a day, working as a housemaid, a cook, among others to feed his family which consists of 4 brothers.
His father passed away a few years back and since then the family has been receiving Rs. 1500 per month. But he knew that it would not be sufficient to feed both his family and his quest for excellence.
“I told my coach that I’m quitting; I couldn’t channel all my resources towards just walking anymore, and I had a family to sustain. Four brothers in Rs 1,500, not possible to run the family, and I needed the job at any cost. I was working as a housemaid as well that year to sustain my walking. I used to also act as a guide for tourists over there, so I used that money as well. But my coach convinced me that I had a future in this sport. I was running only 1:35:00 then, 15 minutes off what I’m running now. So I’m indebted to him for keeping me on.”- Manish Singh Rawat told Sportskeeda.
The underrated sport requires athletes to walk 20 km without ever getting both their feet up in the air simultaneously, which would amount to running, and hence requires a particular posture to be followed. This posture itself made Manish a butt of jokes in his village because people just didn’t know anything about the sport and hence couldn’t understand the technicalities of the same.
India’s national team coach Alexander Artsybashev perfectly described India’s racewalking potential when he said, “I strongly and firmly believe if the Indian authorities are willing to take racewalking more seriously as a sport for a medal, great things are possible. I myself can assure you that we can win not just one medal, but several medals.”
Let’s hope that after this stupendous effort by Rawat and other athletes like him, the authorities will indeed take notice and will make sure that at Tokyo Olympics, we finally clinch the much-awaited Gold.
Title image: TheQuint