Life after fall

Karan Singh | Updated on January 19, 2018
To the finishing line: Youngsters at the Indian Track Club.

To the finishing line: Youngsters at the Indian Track Club.

Karan Singh, the founder of Indian Track Club.

Karan Singh, the founder of Indian Track Club.   -  Special Arrangement

For Karan Singh, realising that his life’s dream was not going to materialise after all was only the beginning of his journey

My name is Karan Singh, and this is my story.

Sports is in my blood thanks to my parents who excelled in them at school and national levels. It became a way of life in my growing years.

Like most kids growing up in the ’90s, I was obsessed with cricket. I represented Delhi at the junior levels through my teens. Running and jumping came naturally to me only with more ease than rest of the kids at school. Despite my love affair with cricket, my sports idol was Steve Prefontaine, a middle-distance runner from Eugene in Oregon, US. Prefontaine was a constant source of inspiration. He was in my mind in whatever I did. I ran extra laps before and after the cricket sessions only because I enjoyed it.

My cricketing career took a big hit when I tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in my right knee. I was in standard XII and participated in the long jump competition in school where I overshot the pit. I had my second ACL reconstruction surgery the following year and with two years out of the game, it was time to do some serious thinking about my future in cricket.

Somewhere between recovering from these injuries and my dream of playing cricket for India, I started to run, run and run to become fit, so much so that I would run for an hour every morning before leaving for college and rush home early so I could go to the local tracks or playgrounds. During every run I would think of Prefontaine and imagine that I was running for India.

I was so determined to become a runner that, at the age of 18, I found a coach in Delhi and told him that I wanted to run for India in three years. Little did I know what was in store. My coach would train me hard twice a day, six days a week. As the training load increased, my body complained, especially after the two big ACL surgeries. In a matter of two years of training in Delhi, I had seven stress fractures in the fibula of my legs. This was extremely frustrating because the injuries kept holding me back.

Once again due to my injuries, serious decisions about the future of my running career had to be made. I moved to Apopka, Florida in 2009 where I trained for three years in a professional setup of a coach and a sports medicine team. Under their guidance, I slowly got my body back in shape to take on the rigours of the track. I did reasonably well in Florida, making a name for myself in the middle and long distance categories. I was invited to the Indian National Camp in Bangalore. This was when I had two of the most heartbreaking injuries of my career. While preparing for the National Open Championship in Kolkata in 2011, I stepped on a broken piece of the track where my right heel took a battering and I also ended up with a grade three groin tear.

As destiny would have it, I moved to Eugene in the summer of 2011. Despite the injuries that continued to hamper complete recovery, I persisted with my training. My performance started to improve but it never reached the level I aspired to. The fact that I could not be the best haunts me even today. I knew I had so much in me but my body just could not bear it.

It was after many such episodes that I chose a dream even bigger than running for India — that of setting of up a running club with the right attitude, training and medical facilities. I started the Indian Track Club in August 2013 with only six students. In less than three years, the number climbed to 60 young runners (between 7 and 19 years). A team of professionals train these youngsters in Delhi and Gurgaon. Students are provided training gear through our partnership with Adidas. In 2014, some of our students had the opportunity to meet Sajeesh Joseph, one of India’s best runners.

These kids are the second chance at glory that my body never gave me. I want them to get the best guidance and the best facilities, so that they do not have to go through what I did. Through them I hope to realise my dream of making India proud.

Karan Singh is based in Delhi

Published on February 12, 2016

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