‘Don’t like to get beaten’: Sprinter Amlan Borgohain reveals why he idolises Cristiano Ronaldo

‘India’s fastest man’ Amlan Borgohain, in an exclusive conversation with Firstpost.com, talks about his national records, journey as a sprinter, why he idolises Cristiano Ronaldo and the road ahead.

Rachit Kanaujia September 19, 2022 18:16:36 IST
‘Don’t like to get beaten’: Sprinter Amlan Borgohain reveals why he idolises Cristiano Ronaldo

India's fastest sprinter Amlan Borgohain. Image: Amlan Borgohain/Instagram

Amlan Borgohain, who recently bettered the men’s 100m national record in a Railways meet to become India’s fastest man, is a huge fan of star footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and draws inspiration from the Manchester United striker.

Borgohain became India’s fastest sprinter by running 100 metres in 10.25 seconds at the All India Inter Railways Athletics Championships in Raebareli on August 29. The 24-year-old surpassed the timing of Amiya Mallick, who had set the 100-metre race national record in 2016 by clocking 10.26 seconds.

Notably, Borgohain, who hails from Assam, also holds the national record in 200m as he clocked 20.52 seconds at the Federation Cup, which took place earlier this year.

In an exclusive interview with Firstpost.com, Amlan, who hails from Assam, opened up on his journey so far and his coach James Hillier from Britain, who is in charge of the high-performance coaching center in Bhubaneswar, revealed what sets the sprinter apart from other athletes.

Amlan, who now ‘feels normal’ with the tag of India’s fastest man, wanted to become a footballer but switched to Athletics to avoid injuries.

“I left playing football due to avoid getting injured. Football is too risky. Also, my mother told me to stop playing football due to the same reason,” Amlan said.

“The transition wasn’t difficult because earlier in 2014-15, football was a dead sport, it was not booming up and then my brother suggested me to try my hands at athletics. So, in my first race, I finished second, and then I was like, ‘Why I came second? I want to win the race.’ So, that’s how it started. I don’t like to get beaten by someone,” he added.

On breaking the 200m and 100m national records, Amlan said, “Actually, I used to think about breaking the national records in the beginning phase of my career, but then my coach told me, ‘Amlan, just run your race, national records will come and go.’ So, after that I was not thinking about national records and I just ran my race and broke the records.”

Amlan also revealed that he idolises Ronaldo because of his never-give-up attitude.

“My idol is Cristiano Ronaldo because he never gives up. He is 37 years old and still wants to be number one. I draw inspiration from him.”

Small goals

Every sprinter looks up to legendary Usain Bolt and some even dream of breaking his world records, but Amlan believes in setting small goals for himself and wants to take life one step at a time.

“Breaking Usain Bolt’s world record is a huge thing. I never had thought because trying to finish a 100m race in 9.58 seconds (Bolt’s record) is a very big target and if I’ll try to set that target for myself then I might get scared of myself. So, I’m not thinking about what he (Bolt) did or if I can break his record, I just set small goals for myself.”

The journey so far has not been easy for Amlan as apart from giving his best on the track, the youngster has the responsibility of taking care of his family as he is the breadwinner in his household.

“My father is an ex-Army officer, so as he is retired his getting his pension and all. My mother mostly remains sick, so my brother doesn’t let her do any household work. My brother doesn’t work as he just takes care of mom. Currently, I am the only one in my family who is working. So, it’s pretty much hard. But, it is what it is and we have to face it.”

Despite all the hurdles and problems that he has faced, Amlan has a positive outlook towards life and believes that his life as an athlete has been a learning curve so far.

“A sacrifice is a must to achieve anything but I don’t feel like I have sacrificed anything to become an athlete. My athletics life is quite good and it’s a learning process. In each and every race I learn something new. My journey has been about some ups and downs but it’s a learning curve for me,” the sprinter said.

“Also, earlier I used to have financial issues but my coach told me, ‘Amlan, you have to run fast and things will come to you.’ And I did the same thing, I just ran fast and things are coming to me,” he added.

Coach’s first impression

Amlan’s coach James revealed how he spotted the sprinter and what was his first impression about him.

“I spotted Amlan in 2019 during an athletics camp which was organised by Reliance Foundation. He was one of the 30 athletes in the camp. Amlan was doing good there, even physically he was good. I could tell that he was focused on training and definitely had more potential as his race timings were improving consistently.”

James also said that he was impressed with Amlan’s curiosity and his zeal to be on top just like his idol Ronaldo.

“Biggest thing was that Amlan was curious. He was always asking questions. I loved his attitude as well. What I look for in an athlete is that he/she is not only physically very good but has a very good attitude, has a natural curiosity, and is very competitive in nature.

“Amlan is someone who likes to win and hates losing. He wants to be number one and that’s very important quality to have as one can’t really coach that as it comes from within. Amlan got the desire to be number one and that’s something that I don’t have to work on because it’s already there. So, I like these type of qualities and not just the physical quality,” said James.

James invited Amlan to train under him when he saw the youngster in a bad shape and struggling to even participate in events.

“So, eventually I selected Amlan when he was at the Khelo India University in Guwahati. He was not even the participant there, instead, he was the guy carrying the crate and I felt sorry for him. I then told him, ‘you’re not looking in good shape Amlan and your belly is of the same size as mine’,” James told Firstpost.com.

“I then asked him why aren’t you competing to which he replied that he didn’t make the team as he was not good enough. So, I told him that he is better than this and invited him to come to Odisha so that I can help him. So, that’s when it all started as he came to Reliance Foundation Odisha Athletics High Performance Center (HPC) in Bhubaneswar and he is actually the first athlete recruited in India by the HPC and literally the first athlete I coached here,” he added.

James believes that Amlan’s actual career will begin now.

“It has been a good journey so far and we had fun up to this point but now his career really starts. I think we got a lot more to work on and Amlan is ambitious and wants to improve. Breaking the national record was great but after achieving the feat he told me, ‘I want to be better’,” James said.

Revealing the quality that sets Amlan apart from other athletes in HPC, James said, “Amlan brings energy to the group. He has that kind of attitude which energize his fellow athletes. He is focused and doesn’t lose his calm and that’s the quality I really admire in him. He has this balanced combination of confidence and arrogance and it’s important to be a little bit arrogant in order to believe that you’re the best.”

James is now focusing on giving some international exposure to Amlan so that he can up his game and be able to compete with the world’s fastest runners.

“Our next step is to get some success at the international level. Asian Games next year will be a big goal for us. Getting comfortable in competing at the international level will be very important for Amlan. There’s definitely a lot more on which we can improve and there’s a huge potential in Amlan to significantly run faster than he already has. We have to focus on the performance and results will come,” revealed James.

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