Braving odds, the Arokia Rajiv way

Braving odds, the Arokia Rajiv way

Sunday proved to be Special Sunday for Arokia Rajiv. He not only won a surprise bronze medal on his Asian Games debut, but completed his fine transformation from being long-jumper to a 400M runner.

Starting off as long-jumper, the 23-year-old Tamil Nadu athlete was asked to switch to 800 metres after coach Mohammad Kunhi felt his chances for success lay better there. After watching Arokia train further, Kunhi then suggested that he make the change to 400 metres as he possessed the pace and strides for the one-lap event.

“He approached the launching pad with good pace,” said Kunhi. “I immediately told him to switch his attention to 800 metres. There I noticed he had a lot of speed and I suggested him to take up 400 meters. Those being his formation years, I felt it won’t be very difficult.“He has changed quite well. He is good learner and has the hunger to succeed. This is just the start for him and he needs to keep learning. There is plenty of scope for improvement and if he keeps up the hard work and dedication, he can aim for more.”

Arokia’s triumph comes after a lot of adversity. Born to a school bus driver father and homemaker mother in Tiruchirappali, he had a fascination for sports from a very young age.

With limited resources, he just kept competing in inter-school meets before joining the Madras Regiment Centre in 2010 as a havaldar. The Army gave his desire a platform and youngster grabbed it with both hands, showcasing his talent at the Incheon Main Stadium.

“Without the Army I would have been nothing. It’s they who gave a chance to explore my talent. I dedicate this medal to my country, the Army, my parents, my coaches and friends. All of them have played a role in my development.” 

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