He Worked as a Daily Wager & a Waiter. And Has Now Won a Bronze Medal at Asian Games
In his teenage years, Ram Baboo used to run 26 kms daily while he also did odd jobs to support his landless family in a village in Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh.
Brijendra Dubey 6 Oct 2023 5:52 PM GMT
Bahuara (Sonbhadra), Uttar Pradesh
His father seemed to be a shy man of few words while his mother couldn't help smiling and narrated fond memories of her son’s childhood. Afterall, Ram Baboo, their 24-year-old son had made the village and the country proud by winning a bronze medal in 35 kilometre long mixed doubles race-walk at the Asian Games 2023 in China’s Hangzhou on October 4. He won the medal with Manju Rani, his 23-year-old teammate.
When Gaon Connection reached his Bahuara village on October 5, there was hardly any fanfare or celebration going on in this humble hamlet but there was a perceptible air of festivity in this remote corner situated in Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra district.
“About 10 years back, when I got to know about the Navoday Vidyalay, I wanted Ram to study there. I walked up to the school which is more than eight kilometres away from my house. I requested the teachers there to let my son study there as it was his only prospect for a brighter future as we don't have any lands and work as labourers,” Meena Devi, Baboo’s mother, told Gaon Connection.
Devi feels blessed to have walked those eight kilometres that day to get her son admitted to the school as it paved the way for Baboo to win a medal about 7,000 kilometres away in Hangzhou.
“The school teachers there encouraged him to pursue athletics,” she added.
Meanwhile, Chhote Lal, Baboo’s father wasn’t as expressive about his son’s achievement except for his eyes which had an unmissable sparkle of pride in them.
“Apne des ka laika naam uncha kar lehe, auu ka kahe?” Lal told Gaon Connection. [The boy has made the country proud, what else can I say?]
However, as opposed to Lal, his neighbours had far more details and words of praise to give out about Baboo. For instance, Mahendra Lal, a fellow denizen of the Bahuara village told Gaon Connection that it was astonishing to see young Baboo practise for the success he has now attained.
“His journey as a dhaavak [athlete] began the day he joined Navoday Vidyalay. The teachers there inspired him to focus on sports. I have seen him run all the way to the nearest stadium and come back running after practice. The stadium is more than 17 kilometres away. He used to run 26 kilometres in a day just to commute to his training ground,” Mahendra Lal said.
Before tasting success at the Asian Games, Baboo has worked as a daily wage labourer, a waiter and has sewn jute bags to make ends meet.
“When he returned to his village during the COVID-19 lockdown as his stadium had shut, he contributed to family earnings by working as a mazdoor [labourer]. Whenever he used to face a setback in the race, I used to tell him that struggle is a part of life and one shouldn’t lose hope while facing losses,” Baboo’s mother said.
“Even if he lost a game, I was always proud of my son. If he loses to some other player, even then it is a mother’s win as it is someone’s son who has won. A mother always wins,” she added with a smile.
Moments later, Baboo called up the family in a video call and his mother’s face lit up with happiness.