Never say never again: Matre runs for glory to forget family tragedy

Kirti Patil
Monday, 23 December 2019

“I could think of nothing but road running to keep myself away from the quagmire I found myself in,” said Kiran Matre

This is a story of a teenager with a sister an year younger to him and no one else to call a family. A few summers ago he lost his parents to the vagaries of nature and the burden of dwindling finances that unfortunately has become a norm in Maharashtra villages.

Kiran Pandurang Matre’s story may well get classified into a heart-wrenching account, but this 12th standard student of science from Parbhani district showed immense character by finding solace in running and strength in choosing the path of glory.

Rather than running away from heavy responsibility befallen on him at such an early age, Matre chose to run differently.

On Sunday, this soft spoken boy, all of 18, won the bronze medal in the men’s 10K category at the Bajaj Allianz Pune Half Marathon finishing behind Durga Bahadur Buddha of Gorkha Regiment and armyman Robin Singh.

“I could think of nothing but road running to keep myself away from the quagmire I found myself in,” said Matre when Sakal Times caught up with him at the resting tent where he was sharing his experience of the run with the fellow athletes.

“I took to running maybe because I wanted to forget what I lost when I lost my parents when I was in seventh standard,” Matre reflected.

Over the next five years, Matre’s resilience has kept him in good stead. His coach Ravi Raskatla, under whose wings women’s 21K silver medallist Jyoti Gawate too trains, is the person who stood for him unflinchingly.

That Matre has been able to make it this far is no less an achievement given his personal loss. The spotters of Athletic Federation of India (AFI) have an eye on his performance and though he is yet to make it to the India camp, Matre’s coach has hopes from him.

“We have set 2024 as a target year to peak and possibly make it to the Indian distance running team ahead of the Olympic Games in Paris,” said Raskatla of his ward Matre, who recently won gold medal with a timing of 17:06 at the School National cross-country championship.

A student of Gokulnath Vidyalaya, Matre lost his father first when the small time farmer committed suicide following crop loss. His mother too followed the same route and as if the two deaths weren’t enough to shake up the Matre siblings, their grandfather too committed suicide unable to come to the terms of the situation.

Matre and his sister who is in 11th standard now continued with their lives and Raskatla is someone who understood their pain and provided just the kind of balm they needed.

Having posted 31 minutes 44 seconds at the annual Thane Varsha Marathon this year in the 10K category, this boy from Parbhani was destined for a medal finish in Pune.

Clocking 31:22, his best ever at this distance, Matre is ready for the bigger challenges now.

Finishing on the podium behind the two chiselled runners from India’s regimental forces is no mean task. While Durga Bahadur Buddha posted 30:35, Robin Singh was tad behind at 31:02. Matre’s hand timed his race at 31:19, which was officially corrected to 31:22, but that didn’t spoil his spirit.

“I am happy to have posted my career best timing here in Pune. I am ready to work hard and realise my dream of appearing for the country in the Olympic Games,” Matre said.

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