A week ago, Siddi tribal labourer Kalu Sirman was anxious on learning that his son—Murad—would be going abroad. Kalu was worried about what would his son—a short-distance athlete—do all alone on foreign soil. Agitated, he called up his son’s coach Shivam Upadhyay, who consoled told him not to bother about his son but to pray that he returns with a medal.
On October 15, Kalu’s prayers were answered when he got to know that his son had won a bronze medal in the 400m hurdles at the Asian Youth Athletics Championships 2022 in Kuwait. Murad said, “I gave my best. It was a tough competition and I’m happy with my bronze medal. I achieved my personal best and I aim to win a gold medal for India one day.”
The 17-year-old came into prominence after being shortlisted following a Special Siddi Selection in 2019.
Murad clocked 53.34 seconds, his personal best, to come third behind gold medallist Yan-kai Lin of Chinese Taipei (52.23s) and silver medallist Mahamat Abakar Abdrahman of Qatar (52.47s). At the Bhopal qualifying meet in September, Murad had finished second to Tamil Nadu’s Sanjay Jerome, who went on to finish fifth in Kuwait.
“I won’t stop him from participating in future athletics meets from now onwards. His mother and community members are very happy with his achievement,” said the proud father.
The Sirmans belong to the Siddi tribe, descendants of the Bantu people in Southeast Africa. They are primarily concentrated in Gir-Somnath and adjoining districts of Saurashtra. Murad hails from Talala taluka’s Galiyawad village of Gir-Somnath district.
Upadhyay, the coach at Gir-Somnath’s District Level Sports School (DLSS), said, “He began training by running 800m. One day he saw an athlete at the school running hurdles. Slowly, he developed an interest in it and gradually started doing hurdles. I taught him landing and made him do hurdle drills to improve his endurance. At night at the hostel, the junior inmates would say he could not sleep and, so, he would use the cot as a hurdle to practice. After every race, his target was to shave off 0.30 seconds of his previous timing.”The DLSS is run on a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative of the Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG) to identify and nurture sporting talent.
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