'We had no playground; our father cleared out a stretch along the river for us to practise javelin throws'
21-year-old Rohit Yadav from a small village in Uttar Pradesh overcame straitened circumstances and lack of training equipment to become a national javelin player. He was recently placed tenth in the World Athletics Championships at Oregon in the US, and is warming up to garner some glory at the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Brijendra Dubey 3 Aug 2022 8:58 AM GMT
Adari Dabhiya (Jaunpur), Uttar Pradesh
It has been a long journey for Rohit Yadav, from the sandy banks of the Basoi river in Adari Dabhiya village in Jaunpur district, Uttar Pradesh to the track and field stadium in the University of Oregon in the United States. Rohit recently qualified for the finals at the 2022 World Athletics Championships, in the men's javelin throw with a throw of 80.42 metres. The 21-year-old was placed 10th in the final tally with a throw of 78.72 metres. The other Indian javelin thrower, Neeraj Chopra, won the gold. It was for the first time more than one athletes represented India at the World Athletics Championships.
All eyes are now on the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom, where Rohit Yadav hopes to garner some glory. The javelin events there are scheduled on August 5 and August 7.
Gaon Connection travelled to Rohit's village in Jaunpur, about 250 kilometres from the state capital Lucknow, where his family lives in a house with thatched roof and bare minimum necessities.
"He will definitely win a medal in the Commonwealth Games," Sabhajit Yadav, Rohit's father and a marathon runner himself, told Gaon Connection.
Sabhajit Yadav sowed the seeds of competitive sports and the love for javelin in his three sons, Rahul, Rohit and Rohan. "We had no separate playground in the village, so our father cleared out a 200-metre stretch along the river for us to run and practise our throws. Our father made us javelins out of bamboo and that is how we began," 24-year-old Rahul Yadav, Rohit's oldest brother, told Gaon Connection. Rahul is unemployed at the moment, and the youngest, Rohan is studying in class 12. All three are javelin throwers.
"When Rohit was in the eighth standard, I handed him a javelin made of bamboo. When his throws began to improve, I got him an aluminium javelin," Sabhajit Yadav recalled. The runner himself has won several gold, silver and bronze medals in marathons held across the country. "The fact that Rohit made it to the finals and competed shoulder to shoulder with great javelin throwers of the world, is in itself a matter of great pride to me," the proud father said.
A life of struggles and hard work
Rohit studied at the Bhim Rao Ambedkar Junior High School in Jaunpur, till the eighth after which he completed his twelfth at Janta Intermediate College and then he got his Bachelor's degree from TD College, also in Jaunpur. He found employment as a senior clerk at the Banaras Locomotive Works (BLW) in Varanasi. He represents BLW in athletic events.
Rohit's family hopes that with continued success, their quality of life will improve. Presently, they live under a thatched roof in a house with crumbling walls. There is no approach road to their home. According to his father, there has been no help extended to the family by the government.
"Our hopes are pinned on Rohit's success. At the moment we are surviving on Rohit's income and from what we get from the one and a half bighas of land we own," Sabhajit Yadav said. The marathoner would earn some money from the running events he participated in, but with the pandemic, those have come down too, leaving him with very little.
With four sportspeople in the same family, nutrition becomes a struggle, said Sabhajit Yadav. "A nutritious diet is an expensive affair, but it is a must for athletes. But, we are not able to meet the complete requirement we should be consuming," he pointed out. There are no gym facilities or even training equipment available to us here, he added.
Nonetheless, Rohit Yadav's family is jubilant. "My three sons trained under the guidance of my husband. Rohit has now participated in many international events and brought back medals," Pushpa Devi, Rohit's mother told Gaon Connection. "But a little bit of support from the government to us would go a long way," she said.