With 23 days to go for Tokyo Olympic Games, AIR today is looking at 20-km racewalker Sandeep Kumar, who hails from a farming family in the Mahendragarh district of Haryana, and had never heard of race walking until he joined the Army. Born on May 1, 1986, in the Mahendragarh district of Haryana, the experienced racewalker Sandeep clinched his berth for the Tokyo by breaking the national record in 20-km racewalking at the National Open Race-Walking Championships in Ranchi in February, clocking 1:20:16. In fact, Sandeep had never even heard of race walking until he joined the army.
His admission into the Jat Regiment Centre tempted him to take up race walking professionally and dream of earning a medal in Olympics. The 35-year-old Sandeep broke a new national record, previously set by Basant Bahadur Rana of 3:56:48 at the 2012 London Olympics, clocking 3:56:22 at IAFF World Race Walking camp at Taicang, China in the year 2014. Sandeep earlier competed in the Rio Olympics in the 50-km category, where he finished at the 35th position.
For three months during the lockdown, Sandeep had to train on paddy fields of farmland he owns in Haryana’s Sureti Jakhar village.
A year of staying out of completion, he managed to break record and qualify for Tokyo Olympics. Sandeep was diagnosed with COVID-19 in May. But after testing negative, he is back with training at the Bengaluru SAI campus, from where he will be flying for the Tokyo.