Delhi Half-Marathon champion Nitendra Rawat struggles for proper running shoes
When Nitendra Rawat, a Hawaldar with the Indian Army, clocked his personal best of 2:18:06 at the Military Games in Korea and qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, he wouldn’t have thought that this was only the first of many battles that he had to win to make his dream come true.
The sole breadwinner of the family, Rawat trains at the national camp in Ooty needs a decent pair of running shoes that cost upwards of Rs. 10000. However, in order to match the family’s expenses he has failed to afford them, thereby jeopardizing his chances at the grandest stage of them all.
Qualification for the Olympics not enough
“I have qualified for the Games, but still I see no one coming forward to bear my expenses. A decent pair of running shoes cost nothing less than Rs 10,000," the 29-year old told Mail Today.
"With the kind of intense training we undergo, the shoes don't last more than two or three weeks. I end up spending nearly Rs 20,000 a month on my shoes and I also have to send money to my parents back in Uttarakhand.
Unfortunately, the athlete doesn’t feature in the Government’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme(TOPS) but his hopeful of being included in it soon. "It would be a great boost for my Rio training if I get included in the TOPS as I won't have to worry about my shoes. It will lift a huge burden off my shoulders," he added.
Need for personal improvement
The army man, who won the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in the Indian elite men’s category, realizes the urgent need for him to up the ante in order to be anywhere close to the top 10 finishes in the Olympics as his personal best time is still way behind the man who won the gold at the London Olympics with a timing of 2:08:01, Stephen Kiprotich.
"I know to even in finish in the top 10, I will have to improve my timing by five minutes. I am working on it. Let's see how my body responds. My performance at the Mumbai Marathon will give me an idea about where I stand," marathon runner said.
Having already set his eyes on the forthcoming Mumbai Marathon, on January 17, as a preparatory step for the big games in August.
“I am eyeing the course record (2:16:59) and also want to improve my personal best in that event,” he concluded.
The runner, who runs about 250 km per week, is full of hope when it comes to representing India at Rio, though the dire state that he finds himself in is heartbreaking to see.