For Border Security Force (BSF) constable Satish Khatri, the holiday means a journey of peace to his home in Ismaila village in Haryana’s Rohtak district. Soon that relaxed morning will be broken by the commotion of Satish forcing his younger son to exercise with him.
Though on holidays, Satish used to follow a strict exercise routine to stay fit while he kept visiting his son Amit at home.
“I follow the camp routine when I am at home, so I (Amit) used to get up early for the morning run,” he says. “I took him for runs because I wanted to. That he leads an active lifestyle and then eventually gets a job in the armed forces.
“Now he’s excellent beyond anything I’d ever expected.”
On Saturday, Satish – at home after taking special permission – clocked 42:17.94 minutes as his 18-year-old son clocked 42:17.94 to win silver in the 10km racewalk event at the U20 World Athletics Championships in Nairobi. He overtook the eventual winner, Kenya’s Heristone Vanyoni, by just seven seconds.
— Andrew Amsan (@AndrewAmsan) 21 August 2021
But earning a place on the podium in a racewalk at a world event was a barrier no Indian had broken before. And each of the 10,000 steps at the Moi International Sports Center were watched by his family glued to computer screens, no one dared to move beyond the places assigned to them.
Meanwhile, Naik Subedar Chandan Singh in Pune also watched the race with great interest. He has been training Amit since 2018. Chandan’s contribution to Amit’s sports career has been so great that “Chandan ji knows everything about Amit,” says Satish.
While Satish once envisioned a future in the army for his young son, Chandan envisioned Amit fulfilling a dream that Chandan could not achieve. For the coach, who is still an active racewalker who has competed in two senior world championships, Amit’s medal is a shot of inspiration to keep working harder for his own athletic endeavours.
“I haven’t won any international medals yet, but it feels better (if I had won),” says Chandan, who is training at the Army Sports Institute in Pune for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games next year.
“Not only do I feel extremely happy but I am inspired by a student. If this little boy can do it, so can I.”
If Amit’s journey of 10,000 steps began when his father got him out of bed to exercise in the morning, Chandan helped that child accomplish the goal.
There is celebration mode at Amit Kumar’s house in Rohtak. The teenager had won a silver medal at the 10km Racewalk World Championships in Nairobi sometime back. #U20WorldAthleticsChampionships @ieexpresssports pic.twitter.com/vKvbsbU5B0
— Andrew Amsan (@AndrewAmsan) 21 August 2021
big hearted coach
The Khatri family also welcomed Amit’s training partner Gajendra Negi to their home to watch the race on Saturday. He explains the impact the coach has had on his budding career.
“I asked him if I could train with him,” recalls his first conversation with Negi Chandan, which took place via social media.
“He reluctantly agreed. He is very focused and lives in his own world where there is nothing but sport.”
But Chandan finds her under his protection to guide Negi and Amit. NS global pandemic His conversation stopped, yet he continued to receive training instructions via WhatsApp.
The coach also invited him to his home in Mukteshwar in Nainital district of Uttarakhand. Situated at an altitude of about 2200 meters in the Kumaon hills, the adventure sports center became Amit and Negi’s own high altitude training center.
This was despite Chandan being located more than 1600 km away in Pune.
“He takes care of everything. We eat all our food with his family. We are blessed to have a coach like him,” says Negi.
“We send him our videos and then he suggests improvements. He also sends us a daily training plan.”
What started out as a reluctance to take the students in charge while seeking his own athletic path, Chandan is now looking for them.
“I train these students because of my passion for the sport. I have participated in 16-17 international matches and learned a lot from my mistakes. I don’t want these kids to repeat the mistakes I made,” he says, emphasizing his hope that the pair will be more motivated to embrace “little-known discipline.”
He feels a little uncomfortable talking about his role in her development and quickly changes the subject to Amit’s time and competition. Moments after the call he sends some pictures of the youngster during his training session. One sees Amit walking through a path engraved with vehicle tire tracks on the snow-covered roads of Mukteshwar – a reminder of the few steps he took to get silver in Nairobi.
Amit Khatri, Silver Medal in 10,000m Race Walk, Time 42:17.94 pic.twitter.com/ilZDhVf8HK
— Athletics Federation of India (@afiindia) 21 August 2021
In its Wikipedia page, it is described that most of the inhabitants of Ismaila have the surname ‘Khatri’. On Saturday, Amit Khatri made a clear distinction.