Nisar Ahmad ,India’s emerging Usain Bolt

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Nisar Ahmad , an promising athlete might be India’s Usian bolt and is also getting trained in the academy in Jamaica from where Usain bolt comes from . He is part of a 12-member contingent of young athletes from across India selected for a month-long training camp at the famed Racers Track Club in Kingston, Jamaica, home to Usain Bolt, eight-time Olympic gold medallist and perhaps the greatest sprinter of all time.

Just before he left for Jamaica he participated in the Khelo India games and won the race in 10.76 seconds, an Under-16 national record.In 2015-16, Ahmad had won the speed talent hunt, a competition organized by the AMHC and National Yuva Cooperative Society Ltd (a multi-state, multi-purpose cooperative working to make youth economically independent) for GAIL India Ltd. He now stands a chance to win a scholarship as part of the Khelo India initiative, which could change his life in more ways than one.

Ahmad receiving his gold medal from sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore during the Khelo India School Games. Photo: Sanjay Gupta

Coach Sunita Rai now plans to take Ahmad to the 22nd Federation Cup National Senior Athletics Championships in March, in the hope that he can qualify for the Commonwealth Games in April.He has the fire to do well, which is rare for athletes his age,” says Rai. “Our national record in 100m men’s is 10.26 seconds. And if Nisar keeps at it, he could beat it.”

After Chickenguniya and injuries he was bed ridden for a long time but still did a great recovery ,he has produced four finishes of under 11 seconds, and become India’s best young athlete. One of the four children of Nanku and Shafikunnisa,originally from Gonda UP who now live in Bada Bagh slum ,Delhi from past 30 years “Indira Gandhi was alive when we moved here,” says Shafikunisha. This is where their four children were born, and one died; this is the home from which the eldest daughter, Raziya, was married.

Nisar Ahmad during the final of the boys’ 100m run at the Khelo India School Games in Delhi on 2 February. Photo: Sanjay Gupta

This is where the youngest, Nisar, a few months shy of his 16th birthday, used to hide when his father got angry. This is where he took refuge to escape the barbs directed at his parents and their “ridiculous dream”—of his becoming India’s best athlete.

Ahmad found solace in running. Once he realized he was quick, and could win races, he kept at it with single-minded focus. He ran barefoot in school competitions when he was starting out. “This track has given me everything,” says Ahmad. “I hope I can give it back the same way.” GAIL has recently found them a better home near Ashok Vihar that it pays for. Nothing else has changed though, says Nanku. And he insisted I meet them at the jhuggi, to show me where it all began.Mera beta namak-roti kha kar daudta tha par usne himmat nahi chhodi (we could only give my child simple meals, chapatis with salt, but he never lost hope),” says Nanku.

Surender Singh, 31, the physical education teacher at the Government Boys Senior Secondary School, Ashok Vihar Phase II, where Ahmad studies in class X first spotted his talent and has been helping him since 2013 .He He bought Ahmad his first pair of running shoes. “What attracted me was his speed,” says Singh. “He did really well on sports day at school. I had a feeling that this child could make it to the big stage.”

Nisar’s parents with their meagre income could not afford to provide him milk forget the protein rich meals needed for an athlete .”How could we afford the kind of food he needed?” asks Shafikunisha. “PT sir made sure Nisar got milk to drink.” Since 2013, Singh has been paying for Ahmad’s daily milk. He also buys fruits, nuts and ghee, and has helped Ahmad financially.

Nisar Ahmad’s parents with his medals at their ‘jhuggi’ in Azadpur. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

It was Mr Singh who again motivated and guided him to run after he was down with Chikangunya and could not even lift his legs at all .Mr Singh and coach Sunita Rai motivated him and trained him to get back to the running tracks .fter winning golds in the 100m (11 seconds) and 200m (22.08 seconds) sprint events at the Delhi State Athletics meet in September, where he bettered his national record timing in the Under-16 category, he told friends: “Aaj do-do record tod diye (I broke two records today)”.

The medals and trophies have piled up, and are now stored in plastic bags. Shafikunisha opens one such bag and the medals scatter on the floor.When I see how far Nisar has come, it makes me happy,” says Shafikunisha. Just as she starts another sentence, the ground starts shaking, a train roars by. “Sometimes we feel sad too, because we couldn’t care for Nisar as we should have. But we can dream. The ultimate dream,” says Shafikunisha, “is to win gold for the country.”

Sometimes I feel like giving up because the sport is costly,” says Ahmad. His Adidas spikes cost him Rs16,000. “But Surender sir and Sunita ma’am keep me motivated.”And I have to keep doing this. I want to run and bring a medal for my country. I want to run for my parents.”Ahmad’s parents have taken loans multiple times so he can pursue his dream. They still owe local moneylenders about Rs17,000. His second sister’s marriage has been postponed to help him achieve his dreams.

If he receives the annual scholarship that was promised under the Khelo India initiative, Ahmad will be able to sort out some of the family’s financial problems.In Jamaica, four coaches under head coach Glen Mills are working with the athletes. They have all been given different workouts and the niggles with their techniques are being corrected.

“We never thought Nisar would come this far. But we have faith in God; he has brought us here, he will see us through.”says shafikunisa .

For now, the boy who will soon be a man is living his dream, training at Bolt’s academy in Jamaica, hoping to represent India one day at the Olympics, maybe even win a medal there.

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