Ram sets record in 35km race walking, hopes to get job soon – The New Indian Express

Express News Service

GANDHINAGAR: Knowing that he is not good at studies, Ram Baboo always wanted to become an athlete to carve a niche for himself and support his family financially. Hailing from Sonbhadra of Uttar Pradesh, Ram’s father Chhote Lal is a laborer while his mother Meena Devi is a housewife.

When he started running at the age of 16, the only goal for him and his parents was a government job. As he won a silver and a gold in the 50km and 35km race walking last year, he was even offered a job of havildar with the Indian Army and the process started in October 2021.

Since then he has won silver and gold in the men’s 35km race walking including the top finish here at the IIT Gandhinagar athletics tracks in Gujarat on Tuesday during the National Games by shattering the national record but the government job still seems elusive.

“The process (of recruitment) started in October last year. I cleared the physical test in January but the Agnipath Scheme launched by the government to enroll selected candidates (Agniveer) for a period of four years in the Indian Armed Forces delayed my appointment, ” Ram told this daily after winning the gold by clocking 2 hours 36 minutes 34 seconds, bettering the earlier national record of 2:40.16, which was in the name of Haryana’s Juned Khan. Juned finished second on Tuesday with a time of 2:40.51.
Explaining the reason for the delay, Ram, who is third among three girls and a boy, said, “The scheme led to complete change in rules and regulations of recruitment in the Armed Forces including the sports quota which is why even my appointment is on hold.”

Ram started running at the age of 16 and competed in one marathon and a few half-marathons before switching to race walking. He even did odd jobs like working as a waiter in a hotel, sewing courier bags with a machine and working as a laborer to fuel his dream. “As I started running I did odd jobs and even my mother started selling khoa (mawa or dried milk) in the market so that I could get a proper diet.”

Fortunately for him, he got an opportunity to train at the Army Sports Institute (ASI) in Pune from March to September last year. He was picked up for the national camp which was held from October 2021 to August this year. It helped him get proper training under the guidance of coach Pramod Yadav as well as a requisite diet without worrying about the expenses.

He now wants to improve the timing in the Open Nationals scheduled in Bengaluru from October 15 to 19. “Besides, the Open Nationals, National Race Walking Championship is slated in February next year. It will also serve as a qualifying event for the Asian Games and 2024 Olympics. The qualifying time is not announced yet but I believe it will be like the 2023 Budapest World Championships where the qualifying mark is 2:29.40. It is 7 minutes more than my timing here. I have to cut down on seven minutes in the next five months,” he added.

However, the first thing he wants ahead of the all-important 2023 is a job. “My parents are worried as they want a secure future for me. The medals make them happy but only a government job can assure them. I hope I finally get recruited in the Indian Army sooner than later,” Ram said.

Nine National Games records broken

A total of nine National Games records were broken in athletics and swimming on Tuesday. Home swimmer Maana Patel and Assam sprinter Amlan Borgohain were the stars of the day, entering the record books twice each. Maana clocked a personal best time of 26.60 seconds in the 50m Freestyle heats in the morning. Later in the evening, she improved her own Games record while winning the 200m backstroke gold in 2:19.74.

Amlan broke the 200m mark twice, first in the heats and then in the final. Four runners cracked the 21-second barrier in the final, but there was no denying him the men’s sprint double, having won the 100m dash earlier.

Andhra Pradesh’s Jyoti Yarraji also achieved the rare double of 100m and 100m hurdles but would consider herself unlucky. She became the first Indian female to clock a sub-13 second time (12.79 seconds) in the hurdles but could not lay claim to the National Games or National record due to a wind assistance above the permissible limit of 2m/s.

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