The rags-to-Olympics story of India’s unsung hero — Manish Singh Rawat

| Saturday, August 27, 2016 - 19:53
First Published |
Manish Singh Rawat, India, Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, Rio Olympics 2016, Olympics, race walking, PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Dipa Karmakar, IAAF Race Walking Challenge, Badrinath, sports news

The 25-year-old Rawat’s story is a particularly inspiring one because it's a rags-to-Olympics story.

New Delhi: With the Rio Olympics having concluded a week ago, the country is still celebrating and rejoicing over the accomplishments of its daughters — PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar. Among all these achievements the story and struggle of Manish Singh Rawat has got lost somewhere. His ‘victory’ it seems lost its voice and importance.
Race walking is a sport relatively unknown to India — probably as unheard of as gymnastics till Dipa Karmakar put it on the national map. 
Few people know that India was represented by a part-time waiter at the race walking event at the Rio Olympics. Rawat, from Uttarakhand, won himself a position from 300 competitors for the race walking competition at the Olympics where at every point in the race, the player's feet need to be in contact with the ground because otherwise it's considered as running. He not only participated but also out-performed previous Olympic medal winners in the competition, narrowly missing the bronze medal by less than a few seconds.
A sport that not just tests one’s physical endurance but also mental strength, Rawat was as ready as he could ever be for race walking. The 25-year-old’s story is a particularly inspiring one because it's a rags-to-Olympics story. 
In 2002, at the ‘ripe’ age of 10 years Manish lost his father, the sole bread-earner, and thereafter the family was pushed beyond poverty and had to live on only Rs. 1,500 a month. Rawat started working with his mother in the fields to earn a little more and by 2006 he had taken up a part-time job as a waiter at a small eatery near his hometown, Sattar, in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. 
With two sisters and a young brother at home, Rawat had a hard time sustaining his family on his meagre income as a waiter. Knowing that excelling in athletics could help him get a government job, Rawat decided to pursue race walking. Manish refused to be put off by the lack of world-class equipment at Badrinath and paid no attention to those who made fun of his walking practice, as he was not just fighting for himself but for the sustenance of a family.
Rawat continued to juggle several jobs to make ends meet and also support his training. After struggling through more hardships, Manish finally made the cut in the 20 km event after finishing with a time of 1:20:50 at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in April last year. His 3:57:11 effort at the World Championship in Beijing also earned him a Rio berth for the 50 km race walking event.
Speaking to Sportskeeda in Rio, Manish said, “Sir, what face will I go and show to my village and family? I promised them a medal and I missed out by 10 seconds, after working so hard.” 
Manish's story not only needs but demands attention because if he can become world number 15 while juggling multiple jobs, then there's a huge possibility he can win the gold medal in the next Olympics with some funding.

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