While every athlete representing India is worth knowing about, here we list some of them who had to face extreme struggles to get where they are today, The hope is that this will start a conversation about issues like inequality and negligence so that no one has to practice barefoot again.
1. Revathi Veeramani
At the age of 5, Revathi had lost both her parents and was further raised by her grandmother. During the initial part of her journey, she had no show to run in and practised this way for so long that when she finally got a pair with the help of her coach, K Kannan, she had to learn to run again. It wasn’t as difficult as learning it for the first time, but it was difficult.
Revathi will represent India at 4x400m Indian mixed relay.
The 23-year-old from Sakkimangalam village in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai district is part of the 4x400m mixed relay team in the Tokyo Olympics, starting July 23.https://t.co/VMfAqgsjbG— Express Sports (@IExpressSports) July 12, 2021
2. Sajan Prakash
Raised by a single mother after his father abandoned the family, Sajan became a police officer in Kerala, as he continued to be a swimmer. He suffered a slipped disc two years ago, and since then, has been trying to make a mark despite physical pain. It would be an understatement to say that he has made a very huge mark as he qualifies for Olympics with the timing of 1:56.38.
Sajan will represent India at the 200-meter butterfly event. He is the first person from the country to do so.
Sajan Prakash, Armed Police Inspector in Kerala Police, qualified for the Olympics with the A cut time 1.56.38 in 200m butterfly in Rome today. He becomes the first Indian swimmer to represent India, in the Olympics and to qualify with an A cut. A proud moment the country. pic.twitter.com/vWj61guusX— Kerala Police (@TheKeralaPolice) June 26, 2021
3. Deepika Kumari
The world number 1 is celebrated but still hasn’t gotten her due. Raised by her father, who was an autorickshaw driver and mother, who was a nurse, Deepika used to practice by shooting mangoes when she was younger. Later, she got admission into the TATA academy, after a year of outstanding results at the Arjun Archery Academy in Ranchi. Deepika has won many laurels for India and we can’t wait to see what she does at the Olympics.
Deepika will represent India at the Women’s Recurve and the mixed team event.
India is on the range at the @Olympics. 👋🇮🇳#ArcheryatTokyo pic.twitter.com/0Fnfa4SEvr— World Archery (@worldarchery) July 19, 2021
4. Naganathan Pandi
The 25-year-old used to work at a construction site when he was younger, to support his family. Meanwhile, his father used to work at a farm and his mother was a homemaker. Naganathan later joined college but had to take up part-time jobs to sustain. However, none of this stopped him from becoming a police constable, and later from qualifying for the biggest sporting event on the planet. Sheer hard work, sheer passion.
Naganathan Pandi will represent India at the Men’s 4x400m event.
Sister of Naganathan Pandi cheer him and hope they shall bring laurels for the country#Cheer4India @Tokyo2020 @BOC_MIB @Media_SAI @YASMinistry @PIB_India @MIB_India @airnewsalerts pic.twitter.com/udDeprfeFV— DD News (@DDNewslive) July 13, 2021
5. Bhawna Jat
In an interview given to Sportskeeda, Bhawna told how she was once banned by the panchayat from practicing in the field near her house because she was wearing shorts. She was from a very poor background and says that on a lot of days her family could not even afford two meals. She overcame all that struggle by practising at 3 AM and borrowing shoes from her competitors.
Bhawna will represent India at the Women’s 20km race walking event.
#TokyoOlympics— RDSOLucknow (@RDSOLucknow) July 18, 2021
Ms. Bhawna Jat is second from Indian Railways to qualify for same event i.e 20 Km Race Walk in Tokyo Olympics 2020.
She won Gold Medal at 7th National Race Walking Championship in 2020.
We wish her all the best🇮🇳💐#Cheer4India#Go4Gold_India
6. Lovlina Borgohain
Hailing from Baro Mukhia in Assam, Lovlina Borgohain’s village doesn’t even have a concrete road and so, her qualification has raised hopes for everyone in the small community. For the longest time, she did not have a kit or the money to travel by train or bus. It is only by persistence that she has made a place for herself as the number 4 ranked boxer in the country.
Lovlina will represent India at the Women’s 69 kg boxing event.
Games village #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/rwQD53pkq2— Lovlina Borgohain (@LovlinaBorgohai) July 19, 2021
7. KT Irfan
Irfan’s father was a landless labourer, and hence the financial condition of the family was not so great. He was the 5th of 7 brothers, and started working as an army man later in life. He continued race walking but did not have the right equipment. That is when popular actor Mohanlal stepped in and helped him out. Irfan participated in London Olympics, 2012.
Irfan will be representing India at the Men’s 20km race walking event.
Which event will KT Irfan be representing India in, at #Tokyo2020❓🚶♂️— #Tokyo2020 for India (@Tokyo2020hi) July 15, 2021
🅰️ 50km race walking
🅱️ 20km race walking#Quiz #Olympics pic.twitter.com/k5MJrwDfmc
We are immensely proud of our athletes and hope that they come back with medals.