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Landless labourer’s jobless son Ram Baboo breaks national record in 35km race walk
India’s elite race-walking athlete Ram Baboo, who is still looking for a job, had to work as a labourer under the MGNERGA scheme during the lockdown, so that he could support his parents and save some money for his future training. Even today, things haven’t changed much.
His house in village Bahuara in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh doesn’t have electricity or water connection. They don’t even have a hand pump and his mother has to walk at least a kilometer, twice a day, to fetch water. They live in a mud house, built on someone else’s land. So, forget about the family owning any agricultural land and his father works as a labourer.
But even the economical and social hardships couldn’t restrict the pace of Baboo. On Tuesday, he created a new national record on his way to gold in the 35km men’s walking event of the36th National Games held in Gandhinagar.
“I was confident of breaking the national record here in the National Games. Wait for another two weeks and the next surprise will be coming in the forthcoming National meet in Bangalore,” says elated Baboo, 23, who improved the national record by almost three-and-half minutes. He clocked 2:36.32sec to clinch his maiden National Games gold.
In 2014, Baboo started his sports career as a marathon runner, but because of lack of diet, he had weakness and recovery issues, leading to regular muscle injuries.
“As I was getting a lot of injuries in training for the marathon, so, I shifted to walking in September 2018. Later, I came in contact with former Olympian walker Basant Rana, who is a coach with the Indian army, and his presence helped me a lot in achieving excellence,” says Baboo. “At times even affording running shoes is an issue for me, but Rana sir tries to help me in all possible ways.”
Baboo is hoping that with the cash incentive he would get for winning medals, including the National Games gold, he would be able to fund his training and support his family.