10-year-old sprinter takes giant strides amid challenges in Odisha's Jeypore

Despite repeated attempts to seek guidance for his son from the district sports authority, Harihara is waiting for assistance.
For representational purposes
For representational purposes

JEYPORE: In the tribal heartlands of Koraput district, much before the sun rises, 10-year-old Sarat Nayak from Badakudi village, under Jeypore block, sprints about 50 km in just three hours almost every day.

Over the past year, the young prodigy has pushed his limits, dedicating three to four hours daily to his running regimen, consistently covering 50 km. His daily routine involves setting off from his village at 5 am and returning after three hours of continuous running, with his turnaround point at Kundra block.

Sarat Nayak | Express
Sarat Nayak | Express

Sarat’s passion for sports began at the tender age of eight, as he took his first steps in running within his home village. Soon, he upped the ante by dedicating one to two hours daily to running alongside his father, Harihara, on the local village roads during the early morning hours.

What makes Sarat’s story exceptional is he has no formal coach to guide him in running. Instead, his father, Harihara, who is a wage earner, has been his mentor. Harihara said, “I have supported Sarat’s running as any ordinary father would, recognizing his interests and abilities. Now, he has evolved into an accomplished runner.”

However, Harihara is unable to provide his son with the necessary diet essential for an aspiring athlete. “Sarat’s daily diet includes just one cup of milk and one cup of millet (Mandia) after completing his rigorous training,” lamented Harihara. He hopes that the government recognises Sarat’s potential and supports his talents.

Despite repeated attempts to seek guidance for his son from the district sports authority, Harihara is waiting for assistance. On the other hand, Sarat, a class IV student at Badakudi UP School, is optimistic about his prospects if he receives proper training from government agencies.

In recognition of Sarat’s talent, Jeypore MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati had promised to provide a monthly stipend of Rs 1000 for his diet w which unfortunately got discontinued. Sarat has participated in several marathons at district-level sporting events, leaving a mark in the local sports arena.

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