Indian walker Manish Rawat on August 12 did India proud by finishing a respectable 13 in the 20km Walk category where more than 65 athletes were competing.
Rawat finished well ahead of some of the best race-walkers in the world – including few world champions and Olympic medallists.
While walking is still comparatively a new sport in India, Rawat’s performance shows that in the long run, India has the potential to win medals even in the walking aspect of the athletics events.
Rawat finished the race in 1:21:21 which was less than two minutes behind bronze medalist Dane Bird-Smith (1:19:37) and exactly a minute off the national record (1:20.21).
Rawat’s performance had come at a time when India was still struggling to open its account at Rio Olympics and though his achievement was nothing less than splendid, people failed to acknowledge any performance which didn’t win India a medal.
Rawat had lost his father in 2002 when he was just 10 years old. Thus the burden to take care of his family was set upon him.
He initially started by helping out his mother out in the fields and then took up a job as a waiter when he turned 14.
From that day on he continues to work as a waiter at a small restaurant, so as to help out his family any way he can.
To make sure he reaches his goal (to take care of his family), he is hoping to secure a government job under the athletics quota. He wakes up ever day at 4 am so he can hit the road to train before he has to head to work.
Walking is a gruelling sport which pushes the rules infractions ruthlessly. Though it sounds simple, the sport is not that easy. While walking one of the feet must be on the ground all the time and if you violate this rule three times, you are disqualified (something that other Indian walkers faced at Rio).
Not only is Walking ungainly but is really painful for the athlete’s body, thus one must be rock-solid in body and mind to be able to pursue it.
With the lack of awareness about the sport, many naysayers at Badrinath used to make fun of Rawat during his walking practice. But not letting the negativity distract him, Rawat practiced with great dedication every day and the results showed at Rio Olympics 2016.