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The 18-year-old lad, Karna Bag hailing from a village Udaynarayanpur in West Bengal, drew the attention of the Indian athletics fraternity by winning the gold medal in the junior national championship in the Under-20 category. In the last five years of his running, Karna has won gold medals in both 400 meters and 400-meter hurdles in the state championships. As a reward for his gold medal in the junior national championship for Federation Cup, Karna got selection for the Under-20 Indian team for the World Under-20 Championship held in Columbia in August 2022. Unfortunately, due to a leg-injury, Karna could not ensure a place in the final squad despite being in the national camp.
Karna Bag’s Fight
Karna comes from a financially lower-class family. His father Bikash Bag has a small fish-selling shop in the local market. Still, Karna started playing athletics, courtesy of his parent’s and elder brother’s support.
He did not hesitate to admit,
“I badly need a job or any financial assistance in near future. Father is also growing older. Sometimes, he becomes frustrated thinking about my future. I train at a place named Tarakeshwar which is 20-KM distant from my home. Every day I get compelled to spend nearly Rs 100 including my up and down from home and Tarakeswar.”
He gets help from local people, family members, and his present coach. Karna who is studying for graduation received nominal money from his school after being called up to the national camp for the World Under-20 Championship. He informed us that money has helped him to buy a pair of spiked shoes that are needed to compete in the hurdles event.
Karna initially started running following inspiration from a local boy named Biharilal Pakhira who was a footballer. Then Karna got admitted to his present coach Rajdeep Karok and has been training on the grassy turf at Tarakeswar for around the last 10 years.
“I would not have been able to continue running if my coach was not there. He has been helping me a lot since the beginning of my training under his observation.”
Along with his coach, Karna also mentioned Biharilal Pakhira’s name whose encouragement guided him to start athletics. The athlete was felicitated by West Bengal Athletics Association through a function in Kolkata recently along with several other athletes who also won medals in the national ranking competitions.
Practicing on Grass
Karna has been training on the grassy field at Tarakeswar. He needs the synthetic turf to improve his timing. Karna lamented,
“The athletes are not generally allowed to train on the synthetic turf at the Salt Lake Stadium. My coach has tried several times to get permission so that I can practice there, but has not yet received any positive response.”
Karna Bag’s Target
Karna’s best timing so far is 52.7 seconds, clocked in the Federation Cup. The best timing in his event in the Under-20 age group is 50.08 seconds. Karna seemed confident about reducing his time. He added,
“My coach says if I can continue the hard work I can finish 400-meter hurdles clocking 51 seconds this year and if I am able to do that I might get selection in the national preparatory camp again.”
But at the same time, Karna needs a job or a sponsorship to continue.