A three-week long exposure tour from February 9 to Jamaica, the spiritual home of global sprinting, has added hugely to young Indian sprinter Nisar Ahmed’s perspective to sports. And meeting the biggest track and field star ever was a dream come true for the Delhi youngster from a humble background.
“Meeting Usain Bolt was like a dream come true. It was great motivating factor to see and pose with him and get training tips,” Ahmed said on Monday. He is back from the short stint and is in Patiala for the Federation Cup athletics meet.
Though the interaction with the retired super star was so brief, more like a 100m dash, it was an eye-opener, said the sprinter. Bolt, a winner of eight Olympic gold medals, retired last year.
His advice to the 17-year-old Ahmed was simple – the main focus should be on the basics of sprinting.
“The concept of training in Jamaica is entirely different from what we have been doing in India. The emphasis is more on the technical aspects, including good arm action, and not running endless repetitions on the track,” he said.
A group of 13 athletes were part of a development project, sponsored by GAIL India Limited, with an aim to improve the country’s medal prospects at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Indian athletes were based in Kingston and also met Bolt’s coach Glenn Mills as well as his former training partner Yohan Blake, who has won two Olympic gold and silver each.
“We got a pat on the back from Mills and Blake as they were impressed with our basic speed at this age,” said Ahmad.
As a souvenir he got the autographs of Bolt and Blake on his running spikes. “It will remind me to do hard work and reach the next level in near future,” he said.
Ahmed returned last weekend and immediately rushed to Patiala. However, he wasn’t happy with his timing in the preliminary 100m heats. “Jet lag prevented me from running a good time,” he said after clocking 11.04 secs. But it was good enough to qualify for the next round.
His personal best is 10.76 secs in 100m and 21.73 secs in 200m, the fastest so far by an Indian junior athlete.
The trip to Jamaica was life-changing for Ahmed. For the son of an autorickshaw driver in Azadpur, boarding the flight to the Caribbean onwards, it has been a memorable journey. Four years ago, he couldn’t even afford one good meal a day leave alone a good pair of running shoes.
However, after winning gold in 100 and 200m at the 2016 junior national, sponsorships poured in. Someone gifted him a house in a good locality in Northern Delhi. These days he has a smart phone and wears branded sports kit and has an expensive pair of running spikes. “Thanks to well-wishers, I am living a better life,” he said.
His next target is the junior national athletics in April, which will be the qualifying event for the July Junior World Championships to be held in Finland. “Will take three-four days to get over the long journey from Jamaica and get back to serious training,” he said.
He signed off with the inspiring words from Bolt. “ABC of sprinting is key to success.”