Road to Rio: Will Kavita Raut, India's 'Sawarpada Express', set her maiden Olympics alight?

Name: Kavita Raut
Age: 31
Discipline (sport): Track and Field
Category: Women’s Marathon

Qualification: Kavita qualified for Rio after securing the gold medal in the 12th South Asian Games 2016 in Guwahati.

Strengths:  One of India's best track athletes, Kavita has the experience and endurance to make to the long haul.

Past Olympic performance: Debut
Past record (best performances): - Kavita bagged a bronze medal in 10,000 metres race at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
- She also won a silver medal in 10,000 metres race at the 2010 Asian Games.
- Bronze medal in the 5000m race at the 18th 2009 Asian Athletics Championships held in Guangzhou, China.
- She set the National Record in 10km road running at the 2009 Sunfeast World 10k in Bangalore.

File photo Kavita Raut. Getty Images

Sawarpada is a small tribal village 40 km away from Nashik. The quiet hamlet hasn’t made its mark in the country for sports, but all eyes are on the Rio Olympics in the village this time. The natives are cheering for the eponymous Sawarpada Express, who has made quite a name for herself in the track and field marathon events. The name behind this title is Kavita Raut, an Arjuna Awardee who has qualified for the Rio Olympics marathon event.

The long-distance runner is one of the many Indian athletes who come from a background of hard, agrarian sustenance. She opted for running out of financial limitations. “I am from a very poor family. I have an elder and younger brother. I wanted to pursue some sport but my family cannot afford. So I chose running as I can do it barefooted,” the athlete said in an interview to NDTV about her introduction to the sport. She often attributed running 20 km every day to and from school as a ‘mantra for her successes. She showed her worth in running quite early in her career. She manage to win her her first National silver medal at age 16, just after 15 days of training.

She hopes to pave the way for other athletes, so that they don’t have to face the adversities that she did to reach the Olympics. Her institute is an attempt to give athletes the opportunities that she never received. “My academy — Ekalavya Athletics and Sports Institute — identifies young athletes and provides them training and we also fund their education” Kavita said to The Indian Express. “I want to be able to leave a mark by training the next generation,” she added.

Despite her many accomplishments, this will be her first time in the Olympics. She realizes the value of qualification after missing out on the 2008 Beijing and the 2012 London Olympics. She is hard at work to outperform her competition in Rio. “I will be rubbing shoulders with the world’s best runners; I will give my best and make the most of it,” she said in an interview with Sportskeeda. Hope are high that the Commonwealth and Asiad champion will add Olympian to her list of accomplishments as well.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Aug 03, 2016 11:31 AM

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