The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is an apt venue to meet Kavita Raut because it was at this refurbished arena a little over four years ago that the petite runner from Nashik first entered the spotlight by winning the CWG bronze in the 10,000 metres.
She followed her Delhi high by adding the silver (10,000m) and bronze (5,000m) at the Guangzhou Asian Games.
She missed Incheon because of a stress fracture. But two bronze medals — at the Open Nationals in New Delhi in the 5K and at the Bangalore Half-Marathon — has given her the confidence ahead of 21.09 kilometre race in the capital on Sunday.
However, her personal achievements on the track is not the sole focus of the 29-year-old. In 2011, Kavita set up an academy in Nashik to train upcoming athletes.
“My academy — Ekalavya Athletics and Sports Institute — identifies young athletes and provides them training and we also fund their education,” Kavita says.
The academy currently has around 30 trainees, all from in and around Nashik. “For the last three years on my birthday (December 9th) we have organised talent hunts. The academy is still in a nascent stage, but the idea is to provide the platform for youngsters to pursue their love for running,” she adds. Her early struggles resulted in her making up her mind to set up the academy.
“I come from a poor family in Nashik. At school, I was pretty good in athletics, but there wasn’t much in terms of infrastructure and neither was there anyone to guide me in my initial days. I found my coach Vijender Singh, who honed my skills and helped me develop as an athlete. But not everyone, who is talented, gets the right kind of exposure. I want to be able to leave a mark by training the next generation.”