Indian athlete Zaid Badar aims to create history by being the only 100m sprinter in history to represent the country at the Olympic Games. He has already featured at the Student Olympics National in 2021, the CBSE State Meet in 2022 and Student Olympics State Meet in 2023. In this exclusive interview, he speaks about his journey so far, special achievements, overcoming challenges, importance of mental strength, idols in sport and his future goals!
Q 1) When did you start athletics and what motivated you to pursue it professionally?
I started athletics training at the end of 2019. What really motivated me to pursue athletics professionally was that during my school sports days, I used to win many medals in the track events, which got me interested in the sport of track and field. Looking at prominent international athletes like Usain bolt and even India’s own Milkha Singh running at such a high level in front of so many people motivated me to pursue athletics professionally and do something big in that field as well.
Q 2) You have won gold medals at the Student Olympics National, CBSE State Meet, and Student Olympics State Meet. Which achievement is the most special for you in your career so far and why?
For me, my most special achievement has to be the CBSE state meet because I got to learn a lot from the rest of the athletes and had a good and healthy competition. I was able to clock my fastest timing yet and win the gold medal in both 100m and 200m and being awarded the best athlete award for the age group of under-19.
Q 3) What are some of the biggest challenges that you have faced? How did you overcome them?
My biggest challenges when I joined TrackBlazers Academy was that I had very low endurance and really bad ankle stability, which caused my ankle to injure quite frequently. My coach Firoz Sir helped me to get my endurance up to a good standard and with a lot of ankle stability exercises and strengthening, which made my ankle perform to its best potential.
Also read: My goal is to make blind chess more accessible to the visually impaired: AICFB President Dr. Charudatta Jhadhav
Q 4) How important is mental strength to become a successful athlete and compete at the highest level?
I feel mental strength is as or even more important than physical strength for an athlete. Keeping your composure and being calm at the starting line and throughout the race is one of the key aspects while running at a high level. This is from my own experience that I faced during the YMCA state meet. I got nervous at the starting line, making me panic and tighten my shoulders, slowing my pace.
Q 5) Who are some of the athletes that you look up to and why?
There are many athletes, including Indian and international that I look up to and dream of achieving what they have accomplished. I really look up to Usain bolt who has made something possible that probably no one had ever imagined. His undying dedication towards athletics and being number one is why I look up to him. Neeraj Chopra, for example, also has achieved such a high level in the field of javelin, which no Indian has. I look up to him for his undying dedication and his down-to-earth attitude.
Q 6) What are your short and long term goals for the future? How do you plan to accomplish them?
My future goal is to break the national records and achieve something that no 100m sprinter from India has ever achieved: representing India at an international competition like the Olympics. This can be only accomplished by the guidance of Firoz Sir.