Nitendra Singh Rawat is a long distance runner who will be representing India at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the marathon event, along with Gopi T and Kheta Ram. This is the first time since 1960 Rome Olympics that three Indian athletes will be competing in an event at the Games. Let us now take a look at 10 facts about the athlete:
1. Nitendra Singh Rawat was born on 29 September 1986 in Garur, Uttarakhand.
2. Nitendra was posted at POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) as an infantry Havaldar of the 6th Kumaon regiment before running 42 km under the 2:19 mark to see himself qualify for the Rio Olympics.
“The terrain too was difficult, and it was cold. But then I was afraid of the havoc at work just a short distance away. It was scary”
3. Nitendra is currently being coached at the Thangaraj Stadium in Wellington by Surinder Singh Bhandari. He is doing a distinct type of training that helps to improve one’s muscle hypertrophy. He has been training really hard in order to win a medal for his country.
4. He is considered to be stylish by the media for carrying a ponytail and an expensive pair of shades whenever he runs at a marathon.
"I've kept this (pony tail) only recently because I'm now part of the India training camp in Ooty. Had I been reporting to work at the army, I wouldn't be permitted to keep it. As for my shades (Oakley), they are of a much cheaper variety than what European distance-runners wear. Mine costs only around Rs 7000 to Rs 8000.”
5. He is very hardworking and dedicates a lot of time to improve his skills and stamina as a marathon runner. According to his coach Surinder Singh, he always gives his 100% during training, and trains for seven hours a day.
"Rawat is one of my favourite runners. He is a very talented boy and gives his 100 per cent at training. We train seven hours a day (four in the morning and three in the evening), seven days a week and Rawat never skips a session.”
6. Rawat qualified for the Rio Olympics, having run a timing of 2:18 at the World Military Games in South Korea. His excellent performance helped him make the cut for the Games, where he hopes of achieving a podium finish.
7. He ran the Mumbai Marathon recently and finished in the 10th position overall. He earned Rs 500,000 as prize money, which he is going to spend on his training for the Olympics.
8. He bettered his idol Ram Singh’s timing of 2:16 by setting a timing of 2:15:48 at the Mumbai Marathon, more than a minute quicker than Ram Singh. He considers this performance to be the most memorable one for him in his career.
9. He had spent three months training in Dharamsala last year, followed by a five-month-long national camp in Ooty where he did high altitude training. This prepped him up for the Mumbai Marathon, and his training gave a major boost to his confidence for having a good show at the Olympics in his event.
10. He believes the training he received after moving to the Army Sports Institute in Pune helped him take his game to the next level. It helped him realize his flaws and rectify them, and that is when his attention moved to long distance marathon running.
“I used to train on the track. But it wasn’t long till I realised that I had good endurance, but terrible speed. I was quite slow,”