GURMEET SINGH, 27
20 KM RACE WALKING Uttarakhand
HIS STORY He was a rejected student. His coach was a retired athlete coaching schoolboys. Together, they created India’s strongest medal hope in racewalking. After being shunned by coaches as a non- performer and failing to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in 2010, Gurmeet Singh approached Ramakrishnan Gandhi, a walker “I was overwhelmed by the support I got at the Asian Race Walking Championship in Japan. When the crowd cheered me on, it gave me the drive and confidence to win and pushed me to clock a 1: 21: 31 and bring back a silver medal. I am now all charged to win the gold.” who competed unsuccessfully at the national level in the 1980s. Gandhi took him under his wing and egged him on to beat his 2010 best of 1: 27: 00 as well as the Olympic qualifying mark of 1: 22: 30 and deliver a 1: 20: 35 at the Indian Grand Prix I, 2011, all in five months.
VANTAGE POINT The first Indian to qualify for the Games in this discipline in the past 28 years, Singh did not have access to proper facilities. This changed, with help from the Mittal Champions Trust .
CHALLENGE AHEAD He qualified for London at the Dublin International Grand Prix in 2011, clocking 1: 22: 07, but came sixth in the event. He also lost gold by just nine seconds at the 2012 Asian 20 km Race Walking Championship in Japan.
OLYMPIC RUN- UP Singh covers 120- 150 km every week, walking a minimum of five- and- a- half hours daily, alongside marathon runners.