I-Day Special | Bharat Shining: Fast Tracking Rural Talent

Kamesh Srinivasan August 14 | Updated on August 14, 2021

Simplicity of life and an honest approach is what propels youth from the hinterlands to achieve, despite primitive facilities

They lack infrastructure, and struggle for even basic necessities – yet they manage to catapult to global glory in quick time. The sporting spotlight has, of late, been on the youth in rural areas and remote northeastern villages who despite lacking facilities, have achieved excellence.

It’s the single-minded devotion in the chosen field, the hunger to excel and the simplicity of life with minimal distractions that has paved the way for India’s sporting icons from the hinterland to shine.

There are now many famous examples across the country, including the latest sensation, the poster boy of Indian sports, Olympic gold medallist in Tokyo, Neeraj Chopra, who hails from a farming background in Panipat.


On target

Another boy who was primed to strike multiple gold medals in Tokyo but came short was 19-year old shooter Saurabh Chaudhary. He may have missed an Olympic medal but the lad from Kalina village in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, has already achieved a rich haul. The prodigy in the 10-metre air pistol had won the Asian Games gold when he was 16. He had already won the Youth Olympics gold and went on to become the World junior champion. He has shot the men’s world record and reaped a rich harvest of gold medals in the World Cups individually and in partnership with Manu Bhaker in the mixed events.

Saurabh’s journey is a case study on how our youth from non-urban centres are breaking barriers in sports. From a 13-year-old with raw talent to becoming world No. 1 in 2019 when he was 17, he achieved so much in four years that many could not even dream of in a lifetime. It was coach Amit Sheoran, with his army background, who helped the local boys with good basics. He would hang half a brick from the wrist of the shooters to ensure a steady hold on the pistol. Electronic targets are used in international competitions, but Saurabh used to train on paper targets for many hours every day. He had the ability and flexibility to seamlessly adjust to both the targets and shoot his best.

No fear of failure

From effortlessly lifting logs of firewood for her family in her home near Imphal at the age of 12 to becoming a world champion and Olympic silver medallist, Mirabai Chanu thrived on the simplicity of life in the rural areas, and an honest approach which is so essential to excel in sports.

At a young age, these athletes are so tough that they are rarely intimidated by the global arena, or the enormity of international competition. The struggle along the way helps them shed the fear of failure. Most importantly, they have the right guidance at a young age, to channelise their energy and enthusiasm to lift them to world standards.

There is not much investment, except on equipment as in the case of Saurabh. Thereafter, it is the loving devotion to the sport that propels them to glory.

These stars have proved that it is easy to fast track rural talent to world standards, with sheer discipline, right technique and little else.

Published on August 14, 2021

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