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Who is Nisar Ahmad?

Among the handful of men and women Indian athletes pushing the boundaries to make a mark on the world stage is a 16-year-old from Delhi who has been burning the tracks. Nisar Ahmed shot into prominence last year when he clocked better timings than some of his senior State mates. His growth since then has only increased the hopes for the future and his travel to the Racers Track Club in Kingston, Jamaica — home to Usain Bolt and other legendary sprinters — has added to his hunger and belief.

How did he get off the blocks?

Like most talented sportspersons from underprivileged backgrounds — Nisar lived in the slums near Azadpur wholesale vegetable market — his initiation was coincidental. He outran his friends while playing with them but did not think he was special. With his father Mohammad Haq pedalling a rickshaw and mother Shafikunisha working as a domestic help for a combined monthly salary of approximately ₹6,000 for a family of four, excellence in sport was not a priority. When Nisar was in Class III, his physical training instructor, Surender Singh at the Ashok Vihar Government Boys Secondary School, entered his name in an inter-zonal competition, and realised his potential. Mr. Singh took him to Sunita Rai, coach at the Chhatrasal Stadium under the Delhi administration, who took his trials and has been training him since.

What are his big moments?

Nisar showed what he was capable of at the Delhi State meet last September. With a 11-second timing in the 100 metres for the junior gold, it was 0.02 seconds better than the winner in the men’s category. He broke two national under-16 records that day, winning the 200 metres to complete the double, and was on his way to better things.

But the spark had been visible even before when he won gold at the School National Games in 2014-15 in Ranchi, followed by a four-medal haul in the next edition in 2016 at Kozhikode — two golds and bronze each — that earned him the best Under-16 athlete award. He was also picked as an Olympics medal prospect by Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) and Anglian Medal Hunt after a talent search in 2016, the support from both to continue till 2020. Performing in Delhi, however, helped him come into prominence.

Since then, his timing has improved from 11 to 10.85 seconds in 100 metres, and he has slashed the 200 metre clock from 22.08 to 21.73 seconds, both national Under-16 records set at the Junior National Championships in Vijayawada last year. He bested his own 100 metre record with a timing of 10.76 seconds at the recent Khelo India Games, then flew to Jamaica the next day before returning for the Federation Cup.

What does the future hold?

The biggest challenge for Nisar is financial but there are other hurdles too. His coach, Ms. Rai, insists that if he works hard he can run 100 metres under 10 seconds. But for that he will have to be focussed, work on his strength and fitness, and avoid falling prey to the lure of quick success. Nisar was not able to reach the cut-off mark at the recent Federation Cup in Patiala, which was the last competition before selection. His timing was 11.04 seconds in the heats and 10.96 seconds in the semifinals and he could not qualify for the final.

He failed to qualify for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. The shadow of doping will forever hang on anyone who succeeds in sport and Nisar needs to be aware of that. He may look up to Bolt, work out with Yohan Blake and take tips from legendary coach Glen Mills, but it will mean nothing if he is not careful, says his coach.

Money is also an issue. While GAIL sponsors his training, kits and provides protein for nutrition, his family continues to struggle. Ajmal Foundation, led by Badruddin Ajmal of the AIUDF, has stepped in to adopt him and fund his training, but the modalities of any monthly support is yet to be worked out.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 1:13:30 PM |

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