It has been just months since 26-year-old Dharambir broke ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh’s record to win a bronze in the 21st Asian Athletics Championship, but it seems even the achievement was not huge enough for him to overcome life’s odds. Financial help has not come his way as he prepares for the upcoming Rio Olympics.
Dharambir, who belongs to Rohtak, broke Milkha Singh’s 200-metre sprint record of 20.80 seconds by clocking 20.66 seconds at the 21st Asian Athletics Championship.
The feat not only helped him break the age old record, but also helped him set a new national record. The national record was set by Anil Kumar at 20.73 seconds.
Son of a small-time farmer from Ajayab village in Rohtak, Dharambir thought the achievement would get him the aid he desperately needs to better his time and qualify for the Olympics. But it appears that the feat was not big enough for him to get support from the government.
He just needs to improve his time to 20.50 seconds to qualify for the world games, but lack of funds and requisite training facilities is proving to be a major stumbling block for him to achieve the target to even qualify for the mega event.
Talking about the distress, Dharambir pointed out that even basic necessities like running spikes were getting hard to afford these days. He works as an insurance agent but doesn’t makes enough to sustain a good training regime required for international events.
“A pair of good-quality spikes for practice cost around Rs.14,000 and these get worn out within a month or two. Food supplements as well as training from a good coach, physiotherapist, doctor and massager too are indispensable. I cannot afford all these and help from the government has not come yet.”
Dharambir pointed out that he has approached the district as well as the state authorities for help several times but to no avail.
“I could not participate in the London Olympics in 2012 due to similar constraints. The situation has been the same as yet this time too.”
Dharambir has also participated and won medals in the 2010 Asian Games, Delhi Commonwealth Games and several other events.
Not only has he not received any help from the government, he is yet to get his due cash rewards amounting to Rs.16 lakh for all his achievements.
Dharambir’s achievements are well up to the mark for his selection for a government job under sports quota but that, too, eludes him. To make matters worse, Dharambir says he is in a debt of Rs.6 lakh, which he had to take as a loan to prepare for the Asian championship, and still has not been able to pay it back.
What is more, even if he is able to somehow improve his time and qualify for Rio Olympics, it will still not be possible for him to take another loan and prepare for the mega event on his own.
Contemplating offers from other states, he said he is being forced in a situation where he might have to leave his home state and move out to another one just to be able to practice.
It is disheartening to see that while few players of a certain sports are given lakhs of rupees for just playing a match, others are ignored by governments even when they do all that they can to deserve the money.