Journey of athletes in India is not often a bed of roses. They have to go through hard struggle, tremendous endurance and determination to bring laurels to the country.
Meet race walker Ram Baboo from Bahura village under Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh who recently won a bronze medal along with Manju Rani in 35km Race Walk Mixed Team event at Asian Games in Hangzhou with a combined timing of 5:51:14. However, Ram Baboo’s road to glory was anything but a cakewalk.
During the Covid-19 outbreak period, Ram Baboo had to face severe financial constraints. He had to struggle like anything to make ends meet and keep the fire inside him burning to be a top international athlete. During the pandemic, he was not out in the circuits, race-walking his way to glory tirelessly. Instead, he was racing back and forth between a kitchen and multiple tables as he was ordered to clear the tables of a small-town restaurant.
During the tough period, he was even forced to sideline his ambitions and provide support to his family first. He worked as manual labour, digging ponds and roads under the MNREGA, earning a meagre Rs 200 per day.
“People used to be disrespectful all the time. I used to feel guilty and hurt. Sometimes, I would work till midnight and even on a Sunday. After that I used to train from 4 am to 8 am and then get back to work,” he said during a recent interview.
However, he was determined to make it big. Despite his hard struggle, he made the decision to pursue his dreams of making it big as a racewalker. With time, patience and perseverance, things started to turn around for Ram Baboo. With help and guidance from former Olympian Basant Bahadur Rana, he kept working towards his dream.
Braving all odds and strife, he kept faith in his aspiration and hard work to walk his way to glory. It all started with a silver medal in the men’s 50km event at the Racewalking championships in Ranchi in 2021. It was followed by a gold with a new National Record (NR) in the men’s 35km event at the Open Nationals a few months later.
Now, with a bronze medal in the Asian Games, Ram Baboo will be gunning to take the next step and carry his form into the Paris Olympics next year.
After his tough journey to glory, Ram Baboo has truly exemplified the popular adage- tough times never last, tough people do.