Runner Lokesh Kumar, 15, has been regularly making it to the podium at the Delhi state meet over the last few years. At the recently concluded edition, he finished with silver medals in the (U-16) 100 and 300m events despite being ill.
The promising runner, who wants to transition into the 400m event this year, has been hit by a roadblock that he fears could nip his promising athletics career — lack of funds. Lokesh lives in a single room rented accommodation with his family of four. Lokesh’s father, a cycle rickshaw driver, has been mostly out of work since the pandemic, and mother works as a domestic help at the bungalows nearby.
“I don’t even have money to take to and fro bus from Shahdara to my training ground (Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium). We don’t even have money to get milk regularly, so I drink warm water and practice. Proper diet is a luxury I can’t afford to dream about at the moment,” says Lokesh.
Lokesh trains under Delhi-based coach Vipin Kumar, who not only coaches his ward free of cost but also provides him with training kits and regular monetary help.
“I am trying my best but since the pandemic, everything has changed. A lot of students have left and I have limited resources. He is a good talent and I would be a shame if he has to quit because of financial reasons,” says Vipin, who feels Lokesh can complete 400m under 49s.
Lokesh, a class 10 student at the government-run Sarvodaya Co-Ed Vidyalaya in RK Puram, harbours dreams of making it big on the athletics circuit. “I want to train hard and become a top athlete. But I am scared. My dad has told me if things don’t change, I would have to accompany him to work,” says Lokesh.