Road to Rio: Sandeep Kumar aims to put India on global race walking map at Olympics

Name: Sandeep Kumar
Age: 30
Discipline: Athletics (Track and Road event)
Category: 50km walk

Qualification: Sandeep Kumar booked his berth for the 2016 Olympics with a timing of 1.23.32 in the men’s 20km race walk at the IAAF Race Walking Challenge at Rio Maior in Portugal. He finished ahead of the Olympics qualification mark of 1.24

Past Olympic performance: Debut

Past record: Gold medal at 2014 National Open Race Walking Championships

Strengths: Sandeep Kumar will fly to Rio with an aim to put India on the global map for the sport. While Indian race walkers have had joy in Asia in the past, they are yet to make a mark on the world stage. But with five athletes across two categories, India will have a chance to change that.

Rio Prospects: Sandeep Kumar is India's best athlete at 2016 Olympics in the 50km walk category, but his recent performances in world events haven't been good enough to produce a podium finish, so hopes of a medal in Rio appear bleak.

Sandeep Kumar Race Walking 380 Getty

File photo of Sandeep Kumar. GettyImages

India will look at Sandeep Kumar, to lead their walkers' charge in Rio, with the thirty-year-old having proven himself in the sport at the national and continental level.  He had created a new National record in 50Km walk race, clocking 3:56:22 to finish 23rd in the IAAF World Race Walking Cup at Taicang, China on 3 May, 2014. He bettered the then existing National mark of Basant Bahadur Rana, who had finished with a timing of 3:56:48 in the 2012 Olympics.

Hailing from Mahendergarh town in Haryana, Sandeep Kumar who was born in a farmer's family never thought he would become a sportsman. But that changed when he joined the Jat Regiment center in 2006, where he got acquainted with the sport, and two years later, when he was just 20, he took to race walking — one of the most gruelling events in athletics.

From farming fields to race walking, Sandeep Kumar's journey took a turn for the good. Sandeep, currently one of India's top athletes in the sport has no time for anything else. “Now, I just walk and walk, I don’t have much time for anything else.” the thirty-year-old told The Hindu in an interview.

Updated Date: Jul 21, 2016 17:41 PM

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