The 17-year old Suraj Panwar clinched the silver medal in the Youth Olympic Games in the event of 5000m race walk. He recorded times of 20.35.87 and 20.23.30 in the two stages of the competition to finish second behind Ecuador’s Oscar Patin.
The new format of the event has no finals in the track and field(except 4 km cross-country) and each one is held twice, with results from both counting towards the final score.
The second stage of the event was dominated by Panwar but still his total time of 40:59.17 was over seven minutes slower than Patin’s 40:51.86. Puerto Rico’s Jan Moreau won the third position for the same competition.
Suraj Panwar gifted India its first athletics medal in this edition. After winning the medal he responds to the media,
“It’s a great feeling. I am pleased to have won the medal. This is my first medal for India. I have put in a lot of hard work. My next target is to improve my performance and win at the senior level too”.
Suraj Panwar knows of his father only from the stories his mother, Poonam told him. A few months after he was born, Suraj’s father Udai Singh Panwar and two other forest guards were killed by the forest mafia near Dehradun. His father never got to see his son walk for the first time. And so on Tuesday, when 18-year-old Suraj became the only Indian athlete to finish on the podium with a silver medal in the men’s 5,000 m race walk in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, it was a gift to his family.
“I was less than six months old when my father was killed along with two other forest guards in the Mohand area in the Asarodi Range in Dehradun. He did not even get a chance to see me walking for the first time and, if he would have been alive, this medal would have been the happiest moment in his life,” he said. “I wanted to win a medal for India and this medal is the biggest gift for my family too.”
Indian drought for an athletic medal can be ended with youngsters like Panwar who achieved the victory with his hard work and perseverance.