Manish Rawat did not carry the burden of a billion expectations when he went to Rio, but he finished a creditable 13th just about 100 seconds away from a medal. Rawat, who has faced countless hardships along the way, however, has vowed to bring India an Olympic medal before he hangs his boots.
In an exclusive interview with SportsCafe, Rawat talked about how he had to fight major odds since childhood and how the support he received has helped him become one of the best athletes in India.
Excerpts from the interaction
You have just been promoted to the rank of inspector in appreciation of your brilliant effort in Rio 2016. How do you feel about that?
That was a big achievement for me, I went to the Olympics for the first time. A lot of people had expectations from me, people from my village and in my police department as well, where I work and the entire Uttrakhand Police department was praying for me.
There was a lot of pressure on me, I did as much as I could. When I came back, I was promoted to Inspector from Constable by the Uttarakhand Police department. That was a big boost for my morale. Now I have a lot more responsibilities, I was 13th in Rio and now I have to do better than that. I am happy that walkers are getting some encouragement and that I have been promoted personally, so I will try to improve in the future.
Why and how you picked up Racewalking as a career option?
There was no reason for me to start Race
In 2009, I went to All India University to take part in a cross-country event, but I couldn’t improve. But I started improving quickly in
How is Max Bupa helping Racewalkers in India
Max Bupa have organized the Walking championship that will take place, there are a lot of things in it. We get full support from AFI, but there are some things like media, some facilities that government cannot provide, as in they can’t go against the rules. But the private companies can help us there. Now the way Max Bupa and the private sector is supporting us - things like recovery drinks etc - will help us in improving. We are also getting some prize money this time. So it’s going to benefit us.
What’s your dream for Race Walking?
We (India) don’t have an Olympic medal in an Athletics event - my dream is that I give my everything from my end, and before I retire, I want to get my country at least one medal in the World Championship or the Olympics.
The Max Bupa National racewalking Championship will take place in New Delhi on 18-19 February.