I Ran Barefoot In Village Athletics Meet: Inspiring Journey Of Nayana Kokare To Asian Games

Image Credits: Bridges Of Sports

'I Ran Barefoot In Village Athletics Meet': Inspiring Journey Of Nayana Kokare To Asian Games

Nayana Kokare, the fastest Indian Runner from rural Karnataka, is all set to represent India in the upcoming Asian Games. Her journey was facilitated by Bridges of Sports, an NGO that empowers athletes from underprivileged backgrounds by providing them with the resources and opportunities necessary to compete.

Nayana Kokare, a young athlete hailing from rural Karnataka, has been selected to represent India in the upcoming Asian Games. Kokare, only 19 years old, has been recognized as India's fastest runner and will represent the country in the 100m and 200m races.

This incredible accomplishment is a true testament to the immense potential that can be found even in the most remote areas of India.

This extraordinary achievement of Kokare has been facilitated by the consistent efforts of Bridges Of Sports (BOS). Bridges of Sports, a non-profit organization, works on the mission to empower athletes from underprivileged backgrounds.

After identifying such athletes, they are provided with the resources and opportunities necessary to compete at the highest level possible. Through their efforts, Bridges of Sports hopes to shine a light on the incredible talent that exists in rural areas of Karnataka and inspire young people to pursue their dreams of becoming world-class athletes.

A sustainable hyperlocal athletics ecosystem has been developed by them to produce world-class track and field talent from India.

The organization focuses on fostering the fastest sprinters from marginalized and socio-economically weak rural areas in Uttara Kannada to promote social and economic equality through sports.

In a conversation with The Logical Indian, Nitish Chiniwar, Founder and CEO of Bridges of Sports Foundation, said, "We are still in the early stages of making an impact on the sports ecosystem of India. But with the success of Nayana, our model is validated, and we believe hyper-local sports ecosystems can be replicated across different geographies and sports. The strength of this is enabling the community to develop agency towards sports excellence which will lead to sustainably developing athletes."

It is crucial to have more hyperlocal systems that cater to different communities, geographies, and sports. Bridges of Sports is already implementing a similar approach in the Nashik region of Maharashtra, and their concept finally yielded results after six years of effort. They hope that more athletes will be inspired by Nayana's example and follow in her footsteps.

Nayana's Incredible Journey

Nayana, a fierce athlete from the village of Chalagere in Mundgod, Uttara Kannada, was discovered by BOS while running barefoot in a village athletics meet three years ago. Her journey since then has been nothing short of incredible. She has done it all, from being timed as Asia's 4th fastest runner this year to qualifying for U-20 championships in South Korea. Above all, she accomplishes every Indian athlete's dream of donning the Indian jersey and representing the country.

"I didn't know anything about sprinting or the opportunity it holds. I ran barefoot in the village athletics meet, where a local teacher asked me to go. I was tempted to go because of the prize money," shared Nayana.

Little did she know that her life would change significantly from there. "My life changed after joining BOS," she says while talking about her beginnings with The Logical Indian.

"Getting the best coaching, I never imagined my life could change like this. I sat on the flight and travelled internationally. I know these things might not be a big deal for other people, but for me, it is. Being trained by the best coaches in the world, that is surreal. The organization works towards getting the best for us and our future, " she told The Logical Indian

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to stay put and train indoors instead of returning home for a year and a half. She followed all safety protocols while training in her room and on the terrace. Her hard work paid off, winning her first National medal shortly after. She believes that Nitish's guidance and care made her physically fit and mentally prepared for the competition.

When discussing the pressure of being the fastest Indian runner in her category and potentially the fastest in Asia, she said she isn't overly concerned with the results. Instead, she concentrates on the process, which is how she has approached her journey thus far.

Soon to be officially representing India in the upcoming Asian Games, She is preparing to continuously improve and represent her country in various international tournaments with the ultimate goal of someday winning the Olympics.

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Editor : Ankita Singh
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