by Meera Rathod
For a lad who’s the best in India at the 100m sprint, Nisar Ahmad is a quietly confident young man.
The Delhi lad is India’s most promising young athlete, rewriting the record books and training at the academy in Jamaica where Usain Bolt comes from. The young speedster has broken the Under-16 100m record twice, cutting his time from 11 seconds in flat to 10.85 and then 10.76 at the 2019 Khelo India School Games.
Nisar talks about failure. He says that failure happens a lot and people shouldn’t be scared of it. He admits he fails a lot but re-frames failure to be not meeting the expectations or the goals that were planned, and true failure is when you give up or stop trying.
So to begin, the first thing we would love to ask is how and why you started athletics? What do you love about it?
In the beginning, I don’t even know what is 100m or 200m, so when I was in 8thtd standard my PT teacher said about a zonal level competition is coming up and so I registered for the same and also participated. During that time, I didn’t even know that I should run within the race lines, or any experience. Without any practice, I ran for the first time and won it. Then I competed with 12th standard boys and won several races. After that my coach said I had a great running skill and encouraged me to take the sport seriously. Later, I joined a stadium in Delhi and started performing better and much better, and ever since this day, I haven’t stopped.
My coach Sunita Rai who is my coach has trained me and I got much improved and got much better. I broke all national records from age category 14, 16, 17 and 18.
And I started receiving sponsorship and felt really good and then I decided that I need to do this only in my life. With continued hard work and training, my results seemed to improve quite quickly. I then started running personal bests sometimes nearly every week and then running national records.
Who have been some of your pioneering supporters/team members over the years and why?
My coach, Sunit Rai, she is a constant source of support, belief and optimism. We’ve had an incredible ride so far, which has included an Junior National Championships in Vijayawada, recent Khelo India Games, Junior Gold in Delhi State Meet, and I’m 18. Thank you just doesn’t do justice for the work, time and courage she shows every day.
My beautiful family, particularly my father, who used to run rickshaw and my mother was a maid, my family struggled in our life so much and now it’s much better now and happy. It’s always challenging saying goodbye for months at a time but despite being so far away I know they’re right here with me, they’re the reason why I started athletics. And I’m living my dream every single day.
When I started playing for international and my sponsors were Air Indian expedix, Badurhin Shah’s Ajmal Foundation who gives me money for my monthly expenses and Reservation Fitness Group from Kerala has gifted me house for my living and so now I don’t live in Slum areas. Then my sponsors Game India who sent me Jamaica in 2018 for one and a half months on their expenses. These guys have been so supportive on and off the track. I can’t imagine my life without them, track might be an individual sport but ‘we’ achieve great things together.
You’re one of the 12-members of young athletes selected for a month-long training at Usain Bolt’s Racers Track Club. Is there anything you’ve learnt from training at the camp, that stand as the best memories or that you have been trying to implement in your run?
I never thought that I would be in this position in my life and I would get a chance to get into Usain Bolt’s Academy. I kept dreaming that one day I would get there. It was a dream come true and I started practicing and I have all the beautiful memories from my time there. I learnt a lot from the academy and I have improved much better and also I gained a more of knowledge.
Who have been some of your strongest backbone or pillar for your sports career?
First is my mother and father and even God who has brought me till here and My coach with who’s training I am able to perform. They all are the most important in my life.
Two years ago you were a 11: seconds guy at the Delhi State Meet, your timing has improved drastically from 11 to 10.85 and 10:76 seconds in the 100 metres, what are you doing differently to achieve the feat?
I made a record of 10:05 sec, also participated in youth Olympics in 100m against Argentina.
Since the beginning of 2019, your performance has been quite up and down as you haven’t been the same best as you were once, and not able to produce the same results of hitting the 10:00 seconds too often. So, how much hungrier are you now to line up in terms of improvements and what have you tried to personally focus on?
Now I am on my off season, I am preparing for 2020 meet and my target is to beat my own record and do my best.
With that in hand, if you could race anyone in the world right now (except Usain Bolt since he’s retired), who would it be?
World records are very difficult and Indians need to prepare themselves for much faster timings. My aim is to compete with my own personal record and break it.
Who has been a constant guide to your Athletic career from a very young age?
My mother and father only, because my father rides the auto rickshaw and my mother saves money or get some cash from known people and they get me sports shoes and all my requirements. They are the only people who consistently guided and supported me.
Who is your coach, tell us a bit about them and why you train with them?
My coach is Smitha Rai Ma’am who is from Charsatt Stadium who is the govt coach. She is the senior most coach and I am getting trained from past 5yrs. She supports and gives me the intense training.
How has your training load increased/differed over the years with your ability to take more as you mature?
Yes, it has increased especially in the last 2 years, but it has still been a very gradual progression. The training changes have been slight, but my actual training environment has changed a lot. My coach says that whatever exercise or workout is given I never miss out any of that and complete the whole set with repetitions. And she says I believe that you are doing the best and I will be supporting you in all ways to give your best.
Every athlete needs some downtime every now and then. What do you do when you’re not training and running? Do you have other hobbies to take your mind off running?
In my free time I meet my friends and spend time with them. And to my old house in slum areas and meet them and take gifts to small kids and that gives me happiness.
You’ve had a lot of memorable races but list the top 3 most gratifying races you have ever had?
Yes, Khelo India games in 2018 in which after running and rested for 5 min and again I ran and won it was such a motivation and will never forget in my life. Next is Youth Olympic in Argentina I gave my best shot in 200m and it’s the biggest event under18, which comes in every four years.
What would you prefer, a bronze medal at the Olympics or a gold medal at the Commonwealth games?
Right now in Olympics not even a sprinter medal we have won and so many International meet where we have not taken part. So now it’s the beginning and I will think for big level and always go for big.
What’s the fastest workout you can remember doing? In regards to a workout which afterwards you’re thinking, “damn I’ve never been this fast.”
From gym workout to track workout all I do it very intense and fast and it really goes well with my workout session.
When I can come from being a rickshaw drivers’ son to play at the international meet. Hence, in that way I just want to motivate people across all forms of life that from wherever you are if you dream it you can do it. I have struggled a lot to come up in my life where I am standing today and I am thankful to god. Either run from slum or from anywhere if you have good thinking in your life then surely you receive the best in your life.
If you could go pro in sports other than track, what would it be?
Cricket for sure. I grew up playing cricket, and it came to the point a while ago where I had to choose either athletics or cricket, which sucked a bit at the time.
Is there anything you’ve learnt from the sporting experience, that you’ll implement in the coming year?
Every year we’re learning, developing and fine tuning ourselves. But in particular, 2018 taught me to control the controllables, enjoy the ride and the power of smiling. Everyone doesn’t get to win a gold medal but that doesn’t me you’ve failed. Everyone’s gold medal is different, so don’t judge someone’s result based on face value.
What are your basic race plans/goals you’d like to execute for the 100m?
Push, punch, turn over. To commit my first 40m, keep working hard. Keeping it simple is important, and once you’ve come out of your drive and acceleration phase you just race.
What’s the single greatest lesson running has taught you about life?
From my childhood in my 3rd standard and during my sports day from that time I used to run and won and get lots of prizes and gifts. Gradually, I came to know this is what I am good at and I just got trained in running and started to perform and make records.
What can we expect from you in the next few years?
I have been able to train consistently which has been wonderful, I’m excited about lightening the training load, freshening up and being ready t