Sandeep Kumar is an Indian racewalker. In 2020, he competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the 20-kilometres race walk and finished 23rd.
Sandeep Kumar Poonia was born on Thursday, 1 May 1986 (age 36 years; as of 2022) in Mehendergarh, Haryana. His zodiac sign is Taurus. At the age of seven, Sandeep Kumar lost his mother. Since then, he used to work on the farms with his father after attending school. Inclined towards sports since childhood, Sandeep used to compete in Dangals in nearby villages. During an interview, Sandeep recalled his childhood days and said,
I was 7-years-old when I lost my mother. Since then it was never going to be a normal childhood for me. I used to work with my father in farms and looked after the cattle after attending school.During my childhood and teenage days, I used to fight in Dangals in nearby villages and earn 5-10 rupees per fight and make money.”
In 2006, after passing class 12, Sandeep decided to join the Jat regiment (Bareily) of the Indian Army. While serving in the Indian Army, Captain Sitaram, a former Indian racewalker, advised Sandeep to join racewalking and later started his training.
Height (approx.): 5′ 8″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Sandeep Kumar belongs to a Jat family from Haryana.
Parents & Siblings
Sandeep Kumar’s father, Pritam Singh, is a farmer. In 1993, Sandeep’s mother passed away. He has three siblings; Sandeep is the youngest among them.
In 2008, while serving in the Indian Army, Sandeep Kumar started his career in racewalking by participating in North-Indian competitions. In the 50-kilometer racewalk competition, he secured 4th position. Later, in 2014, he made his international debut by participating in the Incheon Asian Games held in South Korea. The same year, he participated in the 50-kilometer racewalk event at IAAF World Race Walking Cup held at Taicang, China. In 2015, he participated in 50 kilometres walk event at the 2015 World Championships in Athletics in Beijing, China and La Coruña Gran Premio Cantones, La Coruña, Spain. The following year, he participated in a 20-kilometres racewalk at Jaipur Indian Race Walking Ch, Jaipur and Nomi Asian Race Walking Championships, Nomi. The same year, he participated in the 50-kilometre race walk at the Rio Olympics in Bejing, China. In the competition, he positioned 35th with a time duration of 4:07:55.
Sandeep Kumar (middle) in the Rio Olympics, Tokyo
Subsequently, he participated in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the 20-kilometres race walk and finished 23rd.
Sandeep Kumar in the 2020 Olympics
In 2022, he competed in the 20 Kilometres Race Walk in Indian Race Walking Ch, Ranchi. In the competition, he secured the first position. In 2022, he clinched a bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games. In an interview, Sandeep talked about participating in various competitions and said,
In 2008, I started participating in small level competitions and since them, I have taken part in the North India region competitions in the Army to big level ones like Rio Olympics 2016. And I have made records on the National level and at the Indian Army level. Along with that, I finished 4th at the Asian Games, and now my entire focus is to get a medal. Now I am working for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the upcoming 2018 Asian Championships, and the Commonwealth Games to get a medal for my country.”
Sandeep Kumar in action at the 2022 Commonwealth Games
On 14 September 2006, Sandeep Kumar joined the Jat regiment (Bareily) of the Indian Army. Later, he was appointed as a Subedar in the Indian Army. In an interview, Sandeep talked about joining the Indian Army and said,
When I joined the Army, I did very well in my training and shone among 180 cadets and in 2008. Captain Sitaram, a former race walker who boasts of many National and Army records, advised me to start race walking and personally trained me.I joined the Indian Army on September 14, 2006, because ever since my childhood I wanted to serve my country. Now I am loving it even more because not only am I in the Army but am also representing my country at the Olympics and many other events at the international level and make my country proud on both fronts.”
- Sandeep Kumar participated in the New Delhi Indian 50 Kilometre Race Walking in 2017 and 2018, where he won first place.
- In 2016, he competed in Jaipur Indian 20 Kilometres Race Walking Ch, Jaipur, where he secured 3rd position.
- In 2021, Sandeep Kumar competed in Indian Race Walking Ch, Ranchi in which he secured 1st position.
Sandeep Kumar in Indian Race Walking Ch, Ranchi
- In 2022, Sandeep Kumar competed in Indian Race Walking Ch, Ranchi in which he secured 1st position.
- In an interview, Sandeep Kumar talked about his Military career and said that joining the Indian Army had transformed his life. He quoted,
I studied till 12th and joined the Jat regiment (Bareily) of the Indian Army in December 2006. Those were really hard times and joining the Army changed my life. I went to the Indian Army open recruitment test and cleared it. I still remember that I travelled to another city and only spent 36 rupees throughout the day and was relieved to be selected and here I am now, representing my country in Olympics for the second time.”
- In 2020, Sandeep Kumar received his racewalking training at the SAI centre in Bangalore; however, owing to the Corona pandemic, he had to vacate the training centre and shift back to his village. Later, to continue his training for racewalking, he ploughed his farms with a tractor. In an interview, he talked about this and said,
Everything was uncertain. There was no motivation to restart preparation. We had no choice but to pick ourselves up. I was walking in paddy fields in my village for three months, trying to remain as fit as possible.
- Sandeep Kumar is supported by a not-for-profit organization, Lakshya. The NGO Lakshay provides him with monthly scholarships, buys equipment, and covers his expenses.
- On 18 February 2017, he made his first national record with New Delhi Fifty Kilometre Indian Race Walking held in New Delhi, India. He completed the race with a time of 3:55:59.
- According to Sandeep Kumar’s coach Gurmeet Singh, when Sandeep joined the national camp in June 2020, he gained weight and lost his mental edge. Later, coach Gurmeet Singh assisted him to reverse back to his position.