New youth steeplechase document holder Sonam is the daughter of a brick kiln employee; she works as a supply agent

Sonam, the 18-year-old new youth nationwide document holder in 2,000 metres steeplechase, delivers parcels door-to-door in Delhi’s Kotla Mubarakpur space when she isn’t coaching. Her father works in a brick kiln in Bulandshahr, and her mom is a farm labourer.

It has been a journey of battling odds. From a one-room home in a Dalit settlement in Hurthala village in Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh, to the highest of the rostrum on the Khelo India Youth Games in Bhopal along with her record-breaking run of 6 minutes and 45.71 seconds.

Sonam is rated extremely as a result of she bettered the decade-old mark of Parul Chaudhary, at present India’s finest steeplechaser.

After her return dwelling from Bhopal, she was taken on a 5-km victory parade to her village in an open-top jeep, the place she garlanded a statue of B R Ambedkar as her household stood beside her.

“You can’t dream big when you aren’t even sure if you will get your next meal,” stated Sonam, the fifth of seven siblings.

It was tough to place meals on the desk for the massive household which trusted her father’s Rs 300 every day wage.

Sonam’s mom, Kashmiri Devi, works two jobs – on the farm and taking care of buffaloes. “When a buffalo gets pregnant, it stops lactating until it gives birth. So during this period, we feed and take care of the buffaloes owned by other people. They pay us a small amount,” she stated.

Sonam’s father working in a development web site. (Andrew Amsan)

“I would often sleep with an empty stomach. When the price of potatoes fell, my mother would buy them in bulk. She would boil and dry them in the sun so that they lasted longer,” stated Sonam.

The 18-year-old was bitten by the working bug when she watched boys from her village practice for the Army. “You toil so much in the field, if you put in the same effort in sports, you will go far,” one of many trainees advised Sonam.


Sonam’s mom within the discipline. (Andrew Amsan)

Her father, Vir Singh, noticed it as a window of alternative for Sonam. “I didn’t want my daughter to have a life like mine… We have to cover the furnace with sand and walk over it. If even one brick gets loose, we will be sucked in. The soles of our chappals melt due to the heat. We tie wooden planks on them. Apart from the heat, we inhale so much dust that everyone working at the brick kiln has breathing issues,” he stated.

So, 4 years in the past, Sonam moved to her uncle’s home in Ghaziabad, the place she began coaching on the native stadium with an energetic athlete. But strict guidelines on who might practice on the stadium proved to be a hurdle, and transferring to Delhi was the one choice.

“I had only heard of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. I was told that only top athletes train there, so I wasn’t sure if I would get an entry there,” Sonam stated. But Delhi state chief coach Dinesh Rawat noticed expertise within the teenager and backed her.

She confronted one other curveball when the pandemic hit. The brick kiln her father used to work at shut down briefly. Sonam then needed to assist her household financially.

“Our neighbour (in Kotla Mubarakpur area of Delhi) told us there was a job available — delivering vegetables from the mandi to housing societies nearby. People were scared of coming out of their houses due to the pandemic, so there was a demand for delivery people,” Sonam stated.

There isn’t a lane in Mubarakpur Kotla that Sonam isn’t aware of. “Many people in the area recognise me as a delivery agent. But I hope that with this medal, people also realise that I am a professional athlete,” she stated.

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