Poverty spurs Delhi runner Nisar to break more recordsJanuary 2, 2018
NEW DELHI: The tin shack with plastic sheets and a few sparse bricks is an unlikely metaphor for the teenager who calls it home. Sitting by the railway tracks in the Bada Bagh slums in the Capital’s Azadpur area, it trembles each time a train passes by but refuses to collapse.
From a life beside these tracks, Nisar Ahmad will soon embark for the hallowed one at the Racers Track Club in Kingston, Jamaica, home of athletics superstar Usain Bolt and his venerable coach, Glen Mills.
Ahmad, the son of a rickshaw puller and a house maid, is among 14 budding athletes chosen to undergo a month’s training at the world’s most famous track and field club. In a first partnership of this nature, athletes in the 15-18 years age group from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Odisha and Delhi were selected under the initiative undertaken by the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) and sports management company, Anglian Medal Hunt. The Kingston club assessed the applicants’ capabilities and potential and agreed to a four-week training programme.
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For the 16-year-old Ahmad, running laps at Bolt’s club has been backed by some impressive runs on his home turf. It is staggering given that with a combined monthly income of a mere Rs 5000, the family finds it being difficult to put food on the table, let alone provide a diet rich in protein for a budding runner.
At first, the talented teenager is proud enough not to let the poverty show. “Our parents somehow manage to provide us with meals,” he says defiantly, as his mother Safikunisha affectionately pipes in, “Even as a child he used to run very fast. No one could catch him.” At the recent Delhi State Athletics meet, the Government Boys Secondary School, Ashok Vihar student broke two national under-16 records as he bagged two gold medals in the short sprints. He shaved off 0.02 seconds off the 100m record, running in 11seconds. Ahmad also eclipsed the existing 200m mark of 22.11secs, clocking 22.08 sec.
As he opens up, the striking poverty surrounding him and his aspirations, he admits, often leaves him despondent. “Some friends whom I train with, occasionally invite me to their big houses. I never bring friends home because there is no place even to seat them,” he sighs, seated in their cramped, 10 by 10 feet, poorly ventilated dwelling that he shares with his sister and parents. The entrance lies over a drain carrying sewage water from the crowded shanties in the slum. “I cry sometimes because God has given me a very tough life,” he says, “But it is my poverty that has inspired me to work hard in the face of such challenges.”
“He used to run bare-feet. I trained him but with his talent, I realised he needed proper training,” remembers physical education teacher Surendra Singh who saw the potential in the scrawny boy in 2013.