Sadanand Kumar credits SAI NCOE coach with calming his nerves ahead of record run

Sadanand Kumar has had an interesting journey from Chandol Barkagaon village in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh district to becoming a repeat winner of the men’s 100m crown in the Khelo India Youth Games at the Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex here on Tuesday. He bested the National Junior record with a time of 10.63 seconds.

Born 25km south-west of Hazaribagh, over the past two years he has been training in the Sports Authority of India’s National Centre of Excellence in Kolkata. Sadanand Kumar, who will turn 19 on October 5, has not known his father – Vijay Razwar passed before he was born – but he is sure of making his mother proud with his exploits on the track.

He was spotted at a school meet where he won a sprint race. A goodly physical education teacher Sriranjan Singh encouraged him to pursue sport. The Jharkhand State Sports Promotion Society picked him up to join an academy in Hotwar. And, in 2016, he was represented Hazaribagh district in the National Inter-District Junior Athletics Meet in Visakhapatnam.

 

The victory in the Khelo India Youth Games in Guwahati was a turning point. He had clocked 10.98 in heats and claimed gold in 10.95 seconds in the final. That prompted Sports Authority of India’s talent scouts to encourage him to join the SAI National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) in Kolkata.

“I cannot have asked for a better location that the SAI NCOE in Kolkata to take my career forward. I have all that an athlete can ask for to train well without worrying about anything,” he said. “We have a good sports science back up too to enable the right kind of training, including recovery so that athletes get back to the track feeling fresh each time.”

On Tuesday, Sadanand Kumar was apprehensive after the heats as he clocked 10.90 seconds. He was worried that like in the Federation Cup U20 Championships in Nadiad, Gujarat, last week, he would clock a slower time in the final. “It was hard to ignore the fact that I had clocked 10.78 seconds in the heats, 10.84 in the semifinals and 10.89 in the final in Nadiad,” he said. “Besides, I was unsure of some of the new athletes here,” Sadanand Kumar said. It was a call to SAI coach Sanjay Ghosh that calmed his nerves. The coach reminded him of his pacy repetitions in training, guided him through a meditation session and got him to replay images of his win in Guwahati. “That conversation helped boost my confidence,” he said.

“I realised that practice is harder than a competitive race. And I told myself to not feel pressure any more by thinking it was a training run,” he said. And having shaved off 0.15 seconds from his previous personal best time to win Khelo India Youth Games 100m title again, he is now confident that he can get better by training right.

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