‘Unko bhaag-daud pasand hai. Woh kisi ki nahi sunenge

Urmila Yadav

Wife of marathon runner Ram Singh Yadav (First marathoner to qualify for Olympics after Moscow '80)

When she was in the third trimester of her pregnancy, Urmila Yadav's husband, marathon runner Ram Singh Yadav, called her from Ooty, where he was training, to say he wouldn't be around for their third child's birth. After the baby was born early June, Ram Singh called to say he wouldn't come till after the London Olympics—he didn't want to disrupt his high-altitude training. This was to be another marathon wait for Urmila, 28, and her three sons—Amit, 9, Ankit, 7, and the newborn Alok.

In January, Ram Singh, 32, became the first Indian marathon runner since 1980 to qualify for the Olympics. A havaldar with the Indian Army at Hyderabad's Artillery Centre, Ram Singh has been in Ooty for the last six months as part of his high-altitude training.

"He said he would come home only after the Olympics," says Urmila, cradling her baby at their family home in Babiyan village in Varanasi. The Yadavs have been living here ever since Ram Singh's father Kanhaiya Yadav came back from Mumbai, where he was a fruit-seller. "Unko (Ram Singh) yeh bhaag-daud pasand hai. Woh kisi ki nahi sunenge. Phir woh shikayat karte hain ki pair mein chaale pad gaye (He likes all this running around. He'll listen to no one. And then he complains of blisters on his feet)," she says.

Yet, when Ram Singh stopped training for six months after a tiff with the Athletics Federation of India—they failed to send him for the Beijing Olympics despite Kalmadi's public assurances—Urmila was the first to urge him to stop sulking, step into his marathon shoes and start running. She understood very little of the labyrinth that is Indian sport and its administration, but she knew Ram Singh would be miserable if he didn't run. Urmila and Ram Singh married in 2001. Ever since, she has often seen him off at the Varanasi station as he returned to his unit in Hyderabad after short vacations with the family. But the partings got tougher as the children grew up. "Ab bachche bhi zid karte hain bhaagne ki (Now the kids too want to run marathons)," she says with a laugh.

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