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Athletics

Devraj: A pole vaulter turned construction worker

A former district-medalist, Devraj now toils to make ends meet.

Devraj: A pole vaulter turned construction worker
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Devraj hails from Bhiwani and aspires to be pole vaulter (Photo credit: Andrew Amsan)

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 28 May 2024 5:36 AM GMT

In 2021, news of Devraj, a pole vault district-medalist doing odd jobs in New Delhi to make ends meet, got heads turning.

Three-years later, new footage shows the now 26-year-old working at a construction site.

In the video, posted on X by Andrew Amsan, a writer for Indian Express, Devraj can be seen carrying iron rebars at a construction site in Bhiwani.

He is purportedly doing a 5am to 1pm job here with the sole intent of funding his training and continues to seek a job in the Delhi/ Gurgaon region.

A pole-vaulter's struggle

Back in 2021, Devraj spoke to Amsan and the Indian Express of the challenges he faced on a daily basis.

He was then employed as a security guard at one of the bungalows in Delhi’s Defence Colony but lived in deplorable conditions.

The bulk of his earnings at the time was spent on renting a small single room which he shared with a para athlete that trained at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Fractured dreams

Hailing from Bhilwara, Devraj first discovered the sport rather accidentally when watching television. It was a video of the legendary Sergey Bubka that captured the imagination of the then 15-year-old.

Fascinated by what he saw, Devraj improvised and began training with a bamboo stick, developed his own technique and even won a silver medal at a district meet.

With lofty dreams, Devraj borrowed money and arrived in Delhi in 2019. But misfortune struck in the form of the COVID-19 induced lockdown and his training stalled.

Since then, Devraj has been doing odd jobs to make ends meet while still dreaming of competing in his beloved pole vault event.

While the country laments the lack of medals at the Olympics, scores of such aspiring athletes languish in the grassroots. And despite their stories being brought to the forefront, help doesn’t appear to be forthcoming.

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