Tirupati: As a child, Pawan Kumar often surprised his parents and neighbours with his quick feet. He would always zoom past his friends, be it a routine play session or a race at their tribal hamlet of Annavaram under Chintapalli Mandal in Vizag Agency.
Now as a 14-year-old boy, Pawan did the same when he outran most competitors at the 17th edition of the National Inter District Junior Athletics Meet in Tirupati on Monday. He dashed to grab a Silver in the 100 metres race for the under-16 group, clocking 11.57 seconds.
N Surya Rao of the District Sports Office (DSO), Visakhapatnam, said Pawan is a Class-IX student of a Tribal Sports School at Araku Valley in Vizag Agency. With the Silver, Pawan has so far bagged three national medals, including badges at the South-Zone Nationals and Junior Nationals.
Pawan’s parents P Eswar Rao and P Bangaramma are small farmers. The faced several odds before being able to enrol Pawan in the sports school, where he was nurtured by coach Ganapathi.
Vizag DSO officials are confident that Pawan will finish 100 metres by 10 seconds in the coming days and will bring laurels to Andhra Pradesh as well as India. Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, M Srinivasa Rao, also congratulated Pawan for his achievement.
The sports fraternity feels that Pawan is a ray of hope for Indian athletics in future and his silver medal at the Tirupati event shows that a modest background is no barrier to successfully compete at the national level.
Locals in his village said that Pawan is a big fan of Jamaican former sprinter Usain Bolt, who created many world records in 100 meters and 200 meters races.
A total of 13 athletics from Vizag participate in the national inter-district event. Pawan is the only athlete who made his state proud. Around 5,000 youngsters from across the country took part in the athletics meet that was held from November 23 to 25.