From selling vegetables in his local village, long distance runner Indrajeet Patel has indeed come far – today he competes with some of the best athletes in the world.He won the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Mumbai Half Marathon and Singapore’s 3000 meter Asian Area Champion (Jr.) in in 2010). Patel doesn’t consider his past as a farmer a hindrance. “Farming is a labour intensive process. Right from sowing the seeds to selling the produce, I have done it all. I think all that work has helped me become a strong man.”The 21 year old found from a very young age that he had amazing amounts of stamina at a young age after he started winning sports races .He had no training or nutrition. he didn’t even have a pair of running shoes because he couldn’t afford them. Yet, he won district level events bare foot. “I used to run barefoot and win races even at the District level. I got my first pair of sports shoe (school PT shoes) in 2006 for Rs 98,” he told Sunday Guardian in an interview. Patel’s coach Jasvinder Bhatia had spotted his potential at a young age: “I met Patel when he had joined Guru Gobind Singh Sports College in Punjab. I always knew that he had the potential to become a good runner. I am not at all surprised at his achievements. In fact I expect much more from him. He is young, very hard working, with some guidance he can do much better.” Today, Patel has a job with the ONGC, with which he is supporting his family and 3 younger sisters. To get to the next level of athletic performance, Patel needs funding to travel to Ethiopia and train with international coaches. The ambitious lad is already eyeing the 2016 Rio Olympics.But just like any other sportsman who is not a cricketer, Patel knows this is hard: “I have no sponsors. Whatever I earn is utilised towards my daily expenses and training requirements. I don’t have enough money to send to my family. Sometimes, when they ask me for money I have to make sacrifices with my training requirements. I have to delay buying shoes which can prove very costly while training at this level.” Sports crowdfunding platform India for Sports is now helping him raise funds to fulfill his Rio dream.
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