Racewalker Ram Baboo finish the walk in 2:36:34, breaking the previous record held by Juned Khan of Haryana (2:40:16) by 3.7 minutes.
Ram Baboo could hear the cheers of the fans, coaches, and volunteers at the IIT Gandhinagar athletic track in Gujarat. As he neared the last lap of the men’s 35km racewalk competition at the National Games.
One of them said, “Chal chal Ram, ek lap aur hai bas” (let’s go Ram, just one more lap).
Despite having taken the lead early in the walk. The long-distance runner was Compelled to slow down by the hot and muggy circumstances on Tuesday morning.
Ram, however, was encourage by the applause and race to victory in 2:36:34, breaking Juned Khan of Haryana’s previous record of 2:40:16 by 3.7 minutes.
“You gain so much respect for being a sportsperson. When people support you, it feels good,” the 23-year-old racewalker Ram Baboo explains.
Journey from Waiter to Racewalker
Ram’s journey to the gold medal is full of challenges. He recalls the taunts, “Ey Chhotu, table saaf kar, (Hey Boy wipe the table nicely)”
He had left his home in the remote Uttar Pradesh hamlet of Bahura in the early months of 2018 to pursue his long-distance running ambitions.
The closest city with an athletics stadium was Benares. So he went to that city. In order to pay for his stay and training, he do a job as a waiter.
“People disrespect me most of the time. Most of the time I experience hurt and guilt. I occasionally work on Sundays and even until midnight. After that, I used to practice from 4 to 8 in the morning before returning to work, the man Ram Baboo inform to media.
There was little time for recuperation, and the compensation was pitiful. “My nutrition wasn’t in line with my exercise. I was frequently hurt. I lacked both time and money for recuperation. The hardest aspect, though, was that nobody respected me. They didn’t consider me to be a person, he says.
Ram, however, did not let it stop him from pursuing his goal.
“My dad does manual labor. There isn’t any land here. My mother still travels four kilometers to obtain drinking water despite our home having power since last year, the man claims.
My Mother is my Inspiration
His mother is the source of his ambition. “My mother dreamed, even if my parents are underprivileged. People are born, spend their lives, and pass away without leaving any kind of mark or attracting much attention, she would add. My mum wanted everyone to recognize me. Aapki pehchan bani rahe, kuch aisa karo. He advises, “(Do anything to make yourself known.)”
The long-distance runner had exceptional endurance from an early age. If you want to highlight your name toh kuch karna hoga. (If you have to make a name, you have to find something to do). I used to play football in school back then. I would sprint from one end of the field to the other even if the other kids were exhausted, he claims.
The Role of Long distance runner Budhia Singh
He find the biography interesting “Born to Run: Budhia Singh,” about a four-year-old distance runner in India.
However, the athlete continued to have knee pain in lack of good diet. “I didn’t have the money for a healthy diet, thus the injury wasn’t mending. But at that point, a coach advise me to switch to race walking since it was an activity that was less demanding on his knees, he inform.
He stopped working as a waiter and began sewing jute bags for courier services. He was finally going to quit that too. Ram made the trip to Bhopal because he was aware that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) facility was home to a significant number of Indian race walkers.
In my first walk, I complete 2km walk at a 5.00 minute/km timing. It was the happiest moment in my life. Suddenly a thought come to my mind that I would be great if I could do 20km at this pace.
Now I am able to walk at a speed of 4.25 to 4.27 minutes per kilometer which is a very good pace,” he happily says.
Journey at Bhopal and interactions with Olympian
Ram Baboo inform that he was lucky to met with Basant Bahadur Rana, a former Olympian in Bhopal.
Basant Bahadur Rana could see that the Ram able person and have big dreams. He support him, paying for his equipment, nutrition and occasionally for his trip as well. Later, Ram also receive assistance from Kannan Sundarrajan, another coach in Bengaluru. Kannan also gather money for him via a crowdfunding initiative as well.
Even with the few well-wishers, life was never easy.
Another setback was caused by the worldwide quarantine of COVID-19 virus’s spread. “Subsequently, the Bhopal camp was abandoned. I was unable to train since I had to return to Sonbhadra, he claims.
Ram worked from home to provide for his family. His phone has recordings of him digging ditches in the sun in between videos of him tracking his progress and fixing technological issues.
“My father and I dug ponds in the MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005)”
I would concentrate on the card that my parents had. Ram had to work because I couldn’t train during the shutdown of COVID 19. I along with my father work to dig ponds or a road.
We put in two months of work. They did not pay us every day. They figure out how much soil we took, and then they pay us accordingly. I made between 200 and 300 rupees a day only,” he claims.
Memories of Championships in Ranchi (India)
It was challenging to train even when he got back to Bhopal since visitors were not allowed to enter the SAI campus. “Coach used to WhatsApp me the training. I must practice on the road outside the college while it was in lockdown.
Racewalker Ram Baboo didn’t have access to a gym, a pool, or massage services after training,” he muses.
With his dedication and hard work, Ram won a silver medal in the men’s 50km race at the Racewalking championships in Ranchi in 2021 despite of all the challenges.
A few months later, at the Open Nationals, he won gold with a new National Record in the men’s 35km race.
Since then, he has consistently excelled, taking home a silver medal in the 35km racewalking championships in 2022, as well as competing in the Racewalking World Cup same year.
Lack of Sponsorship for his Events
Racewalker Ram Baboo has received medals, but not enough sponsors for his event. “Prize money for the winners at the Race Walking Nationals and the National Championships has been declared by the UP government.
Although the award money publish in the press as well, I have not yet received it. They have stated that they will award the National Games champion with Rs. 6 lakh,” he claims.
Ram continues to hunt for a job that would help him with his financial difficulties. “Last year, I applied for a job in the Army. The timeframe of recruitment has changed. And the recruiting manager has instructed me to submit a fresh application through Agniveer,” he claims.
The athlete utilizes his experiences as inspiration if life has been challenging.
“When I was working as a waiter, it was the worst time of my life. Even though I was in terrible shape, I continued to work because I needed the money.
It helped me understand what makes up a human life.
If I am having trouble throughout the marathon, I keep myself motivated by thinking back to where I started and where I am right now.
He asserts that you won’t receive any pehchan (recognition) if you don’t push yourself.
He is positive about both the present and the future events. I’m doing civilian training at the Army Sports Institute in Pune right now. They manage my lodging and boarding. I owe nothing to anyone. That really helps,” he said.
He is anticipating the future races.
“I came here to compete at my best level and set a new national record with a gold medal.
I wasn’t able to offer my best effort since the track was a little difficult because it was cemented.
At the Open Nationals (starting October 15), I will do all in my power to improve on this,” he declares.
“I want to be eligible for the Asian and Olympic Games. You must have confidence in yourself if you want to succeed.
Us level ki mehnat karni chahiye tumhe, Jis level ka sapna dekhte ho. (If your desire is large, you must dedicate that much time to your training.)
Every goal comes with a price. Either you pay the price in cash or in labor,” he asserts.
Although Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh is far from the Paris Olympics and the Asian Games, Ram is certain he can make it.
This was the life story of the Racewalker Ram Baboo which is full of struggle and difficulties. If you wish to succeed in your life, come out of your comfort zone and start hardworking to achieve your goals and dreams.
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