From MNREGA Labourer to Asian Games Medalist: Ram Baboo's Tale of Unwavering Determination
Ram Baboo"s achievement of reaching the podium at the Asian Games 2022 serves as a testament to his unwavering determination in pursuing his dreams, despite facing numerous hardships and making significant sacrifices.
An old video of Ram Baboo, who won the bronze medal in the 35km race walk mixed team event at the 2023 Asian Games, went viral on social media. The video showcases his achievement of reaching the podium at the mega-event which serves as a testament to his unwavering determination in pursuing his dreams, despite facing numerous hardships and making significant sacrifices.
Who is Ram Baboo?
Ram Baboo and Manju Rani clinched the bronze medal in the 35km race walk mixed team event at the 2023 Asian Games. Baboo came in fourth and Manju finished sixth to pip Hong Kong to take the final step on the podium with a time of 5:51:14. China (5:16:41) and Japan (5:22:11), took home the gold and silver medals, respectively.
Hailing from the remote village of Bauar in the Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh, the 24-year-old was the son of a laborer and farmer who worked hard to raise a family of six.
Sports came in his path when Baboo was inspired by the performances of Indian athletes at the 2012 London Olympics. There was a 200m track near his house and started to dream of becoming a marathon runner.
Later, he tried to explore race walking and after practicing it, he worked hard to pursue his goals. But what about the funds he needed to become an athlete? Baboo worked as a waiter in a hotel in Varanasi to look after his training, accommodation, and dietary expenses and also did courier packaging, where he stitched jute bags.
His schedule prompted him to train early in the morning, from 4 a.m.-8 a.m. and get to work thereafter. To make ends meet, he used to work long hours, even till midnight and on weekends With little time to rest, he picked up multiple injuries pretty consistently. He didn’t make enough money to pay for his dietary requirements but still overcame those challenges.
His story started to reach people who eventually provided help. After meeting former Olympian Basant Bahadur Rana in Bhopal, he got support from him for his kit, diet, and even his travel. Another coach, Kannan Sundarrajan, used a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for him.
“After Covid, I went to Bhopal and trained with a good group under coach Surender Paul. I have seen so much in life; I decided it is do-or-die for me. I worked so hard that I was confident of breaking the national record in national race walking championships last year,” Baboo said.
He is Ram Baboo, who once worked as MGNREGS labour and waiter. Today he won bronze medal in #AsianGames in the 35km race walk mixed team. Talk about determination and grit. pic.twitter.com/HFB6s8AUZj
Ram Baboo was also one of those people who had suffer due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. With his father suffering financially, Baboo joined him in manual labor under the government’s MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005) scheme, earning daily wages of ₹300.
Ram Baboo's never-give-up attitude!
Despite such hardships, Baboo never let go of him ambitions and rose to fame last year when he broke the national record in the 35km race walk at the National Games. He registered a timing of 2:36:34 in an individual event at the IIT Gandhinagar athletic track in Gujarat, surpassing Juned Khan's record of 2:40.16.
At National Championships in the 35 km race walk, he clocked 2:31:36 hours in Ranchi in February 2023. There has been notable progression in his track record lately, clocking the same distance in 2:46:31 hours at the Stadium Hanamkonda, Warangal, in September 2021.
The 23-year-old is a physical education graduate who had no money to compete in the Ranchi nationals in April. His coach provided him flight tickets. Baboo later repaid him all the money. "That was the first time I went to a competition on a flight; it was because the coach felt I should be fresh," he said.
Now, Ram Baboo has etched his name in India's sporting history with the bronze medal at the 2023 Asian Games. The Paris Olympics next year, suddenly, doesn't seem as distant as it once did.
Anjali Ankad has completed graduation in Journalism and Mass Communication and completed Masters in Journalism. While working as a sub-editor to Newsbharati, she aims to make her hand robust on sports.