Rajeev Arokia, the shining star of the relay team, is eager to hoist the flag of India in the Paris Olympics

All four players of the Indian relay team are fully prepared to wave the tricolor in the Olympics to be held between 26 July and 11 August. Arokia Rajiv, an important member of this team, is also ready to fulfill his father’s dream. Arokia’s father Y. Soundararajan was a bus driver and his mother was a daily wage laborer. Before becoming a driver, his father was a state level runner and long jump player, but he could not move beyond that, but now Arokia is fulfilling his father’s dream. He also won a silver medal in the men’s 4×400 meter relay. He was part of the 4×400 meter relay team of Tokyo Olympics.

Switching from long jump to sprint has been beneficial for Rajiv, who credits his coach for his move from field to track, for which he followed his coach’s advice with utmost discipline. Hailing from a village in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, Arokia has won all sorts of medals at the Asian Games – bronze in 400m at Incheon 2014, silver in the men’s 4x400m relay and gold in the mixed 4x400m relay at Jakarta 2018. After participating in the men’s 4x400m relay at the Rio 2016 Games, Arokia Rajiv will be participating in his second Olympics in Tokyo, and along with his relay mates Mohammed Anas, Amoj Jacob, Noah Nirmal Tom and Naganathan Pandi, Rajiv will be looking to make the most of his Olympic experience.

Coming from a humble family, Rajiv did not even have shoes when he started running. Not only this, to participate in a state-level competition in Tamil Nadu, Rajiv had to borrow spikes from a friend. While studying at the Government Boys Higher Secondary School in Lalgudi town, the school’s athletics coach T Ramachandran realized that Rajiv had a good running style. At St. Joseph’s College in Tiruchirappalli, Rajiv participated in long jump and triple jump at the university level and won. However, his family did not have the necessary resources for his nutrition and training. Due to which Rajiv, the son of a truck driver, joined the 8th Battalion of the Madras Regiment of the Indian Army in 2011 so that he could get better facilities.

In 2017, he won gold in the men’s 4x400m relay and silver in the 400m at the Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar. The junior commissioned officer was conferred the Arjuna Award by the Government of India in 2017, becoming the second officer from the Madras Regiment to receive the award. The quarter-miler has a personal best of 45.37 seconds in 400m, which came when he missed out on bronze at the Doha 2019 Asian Athletics Championships. With the National Institute of Sports in Patiala also open for limited hours due to the COVID-19 lockdown, Arokia Rajiv had a routine of six hours of practice, which included three hours in the morning and three in the evening. Rajiv says being confined to a room away from family has been mentally challenging, as he has hardly participated in any event since the pandemic, not only this, Arokia Rajiv said that there came a time when he even started questioning the training point.

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