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Rahul Rohilla: Once couldn't afford sports shoes, will see his dreams unfurl at Tokyo Olympics

Rahul almost quit the sport in 2016 due to financial constraints but will now be competing in the men's race walking finals at Tokyo Olympics

Indian athlete Rahul Rohilla

Rahul Rohilla Men's Race Walking (Source: Twitter)


Manish Sharma

Updated: 5 Aug 2021 8:31 AM GMT

Over the past few days, the Tokyo Olympics have shown us stories of grit and determination. We have witnessed the outstanding achievements of our athletes, and we have learned about the struggles faced by them. Sports have always been filled with stories of overcoming adversity and pushing the limits of human ability.

The games have evoked so many of our emotions and the credit goes to the brilliant people who have worked so hard to reach where they are. One such brilliant sportsperson is Rahul Rohila, a 25-year-old Indian racewalker who is competing in the Men's 20km race walking finals today.

For a lot of people, playing sports is one way of shaping our physical self in anticipation of the gruelling struggle of the world. Rahul has been no stranger to the gruelling struggles of the world, having faced difficulties from early on when he started race walking in 2013.

He hails from Haryana, from a family of modest means. His father worked as an electrician and the money was tight. The family lived on a shoestring budget, to the extent that the Indian race walking finalist could not previously afford sports shoes for his practice.

There was a time when Rahul struggled to raise money for his parents' treatment in 2016. His parents fell sick and the treatment cost amounted to INR 10000 to 12000.

While he was struggling to fulfill basic needs for his family, access to the extensive (and expensive) demands of sports training like the right gear and adequate diet was beyond his means. He had to leave his race walking practice shortly due to financial constraints – an interest he had cultivated thanks to his junior racewalker cousins.

However, after encouragement from his parents, Rahul resumed practice again and was more determined than ever to succeed. He joined the army through sports quota in 2017 and from there on it was no looking back for Rahul as he started working on his dream to compete at the Olympics.

The dream finally came true in 2021, when Rahul bagged the qualification for Tokyo Olympics at the National Open Race Walking Championships in Ranchi.

Rahul won the silver medal in the competition finishing just behind Sandeep Kumar who broke the national record and also earned qualification for the Olympics. Rahul hadn't participated in any competition for more than a year but still managed to improve on his previous best timing of 1:21:59 to 1:20:26.

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