Who is Manish Rawat? He is a 25-year-old pahari boy from Uttarakhand who became the first athlete to participate in 20km and trying to make racewalking a game in India.
With just Rs. 1,500 a month this underdog survived to make it to the platform of Olympics, true but sad that many of us neither know his name nor the existence of sport like Racewalk in India.
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Since many Athletics events hosted in India of late, Rawat is competing with known faces as there are not many players to compete with. He works two part time jobs; works as a waiter to give his dream a run and hope to India on Olympic stage.
This 25 years old boy from small town of Uttarkhand finished 13th in the 20km racewalking at Rio ahead of many renowned racewalkers in the world. This unknown hero took 1:21:21 to finish jut a minute behind the bronze medalist.
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There is totally different technique involved in racewalk as there are two certain rules for doing it. The first thing that the judge watch is that athlete’s back toe cannot leave the ground until the heel of the front foot has touched the ground and second is the supporting leg must be straight from the point of contact with the ground. This gives the unusual posture of running that sometimes people even laugh seeing the athletes.
With mainstream media focusing on the India’s inability to register big on medal table, there is a ray of hope in Manish Rawat. There is no exposure for racewalk in India at any level.
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Although the race is played on roads Rawat trained in the lap of Himalayas to make it to Rio. There was no one to train with him so he kept practising by his own till he made his dream come true.
While UK recently declared that they spent 5.5 million pounds per medal winner, Manish Rawat spent what he earned to travel on the road to Rio. Rawat is now among the top 15 race-walkers in the world and it is itself a huge success for this unsung hero.
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There is four years wait for this champion to prove himself. While athletes from many countries were disappointed with their performances at Rio, Rawat is back with a hope again to win medal in 2020 Tokyo Olympics.