Crossing hurdles swiftly

Determined

Crossing hurdles swiftly

Sunil Kumar, the 27-year-old winner of the Indian Elite Men, at the 10 K Sunfeast marathon, started to train to become a long distance runner merely seven years ago. Shy and self-effacing, he is a far cry from the media-savvy sportspeople, who are as comfortable endorsing international brands as they are with their sport or speaking about themselves.

A Sub-Inspector with the Haryana police, the athlete who clocked 10,000 metres in 29.33 seconds to win the Federation Cup this year talks a little about himself and the commitment and dedication it takes to become a successful marathon runner.

“I come from a family of farmers. I have two sisters and my parents tilled the soil all their lives. We grow wheat and mustard by tradition. We are poor and we need the prize money that competitions like these offer,” he says. Sunil is married to Suman, a girl from his hometown and has a one-year-old son Manav.

Discipline and dedication plus a commitment to the sport have kept him going all these years, in spite of very little government support or financial incentives from any sports organisation.

Now with a decent prize money and international fame on offer he feels that his hard work and training over the years will be rewarded and recognised to some extent.

So what is his daily training schedule like? For four hours every day come rain, hail or shine, Sunil pounds the streets relentlessly to build up his stamina and levels of endurance. Sunday is the only day in the week that he allows his body to rest and recover. “I drink plenty of milk and fruit juice everyday. I also eat curds and rotis. That’s my diet – simple and nutritious,” he smiles.

As far as ambitions go, he hopes to do well in the Commonwealth Games. He also nurtures ambition for his son. “I want Manav to become a well-known sportsman but not a long distance runner. I would prefer him to become a high jumper – compete in the Olympics even. He should not be bogged down by lack of opportunities like me,” says the champion marathon man.

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