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Shashwat Shukla: Barefoot Runner, who fought against all odds to set the world record
Shashwat Shukla, a barefoot runner from Pune became the fastest man to run 15 Kilometers (in under an hour), a feat certified by the UK based World Book of Records. Shashwat ran the distance in just 58 minutes 12 seconds on March 2019 despite a twisted leg.
The story behind the record performance of Shashwat has pain, Heartbreak, sweat, and toil. He is not new to running, he was a runner back in 2007 where he gathered praise in 1500 meters races.
Shashwat suffered an accident in 2007, which bent his leg by nearly five centimeters. His left leg became crooked from the knee below.
He was told that he could never run again or even walk again. He could barely stand or sit. Shashwat could not even wear a certain type of clothes like jeans or tracksuits due to the injury.
After struggling for seven years, Shashwat got back on his feet. One day while walking barefoot on the banks of river Ganga he realized that he wasn’t finding it difficult to walk barefoot. He once again got in touch with his old coach, Ram Singh, who represented India in the 2012 Olympics which were held in London. His coach advised him to switch into the field of barefoot running.
However, barefoot running is difficult from usual running because athletes don’t wear any footwear which puts the feet on the risk of injury from gravels or pointed materials.
Shashwat said, ” I wanted to show people that you don’t need expensive shoes to run”.
Unfortunately, the same year he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It took him two years to be treated for it. During which time he had to again give up running.
Shashwat completed his bachelor’s degree in commerce during this time. His Grandfather and his coach believed in him and supported his passion for running. He credits his success to both of them.
Shashwat considers Ram Singh as his brother and his grandfather as his Idol. Shashwat said, “My grandfather has taught me about the importance of respect, hard work, and honesty. They are in my blood. I had told him that one day, ‘I will achieve something so great that your name will shine in society because of me’, and today I did it by breaking the record”.
Shashwat finally started training in 2016. He would train for two hours from 5 a.m., Monday to Saturday. In evenings he indulged into his hobby of playing the flute. He also completed his bachelors in a Law degree. He developed both, physical and mental strength.
Now after breaking the record in 2019, he wants to represent India at 2020 100K World Championship which is going to be held in the Netherlands.
He credits his return to the people around him.
“I had the support of many good people – My family, my grandfather and my friends. They all helped me a lot”, Shashwat told TOI.
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