Share Your Thoughts

Pleasanton, CA – At age 16, Ranveer Rajoura does not have his driver’s license yet. But his speed on the track may mean he doesn’t need one. The Foothill High School sophomore has qualified to compete in the USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships in Sacramento July 25-31. 

Rajoura only started training in Track & Field this past year. But he quickly moved up the ranks. He is currently the #1 Sophomore in the North Coast Section and #13th in the State of California for the 400m dash. Rajoura has also set personal records for the 200m and the long jump. He will be competing in all three events.

Ranveer Rajoura trains for the 400m at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, CA. Photo: Sree Sripathy for India Currents/CatchLight Local.

The sportsman isn’t excited or nervous. “I just want to get a medal,” he tells India Currents in an interview.

Rajoura is a member of the Falcon Track Club. His daily schedule consists of morning training at Foothill High School, followed by strengthening exercises like pull ups and squats, interspersed with weight training. Back at home, ice baths are routine to help with soreness. A healthy meal often consists of salmon and rice, and maybe the occasional carrot, his favorite vegetable.

Ranveer Rajoura trains for the long jump at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, CA. Photo: Sree Sripathy for India Currents/CatchLight Local.

Rajoura wears his hair pulled back into a ponytail, with the sides shaved. He speaks quickly and energetically on all things: from his thoughts on horror movies to drinking Bournvita. His competitiveness isn’t immediately obvious. 

It is when he’s on the field that the energy of a young teen sharpens into the competitive gaze of an athlete.

This focus is what long jump Coach Lissa Olson says is so impressive about him. “He’s definitely very competitive. I just think the sky’s the limit for him. He really has huge potential.”

Coach Lissa Olson and Ranveer Rajoura at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, CA. Photo: Sree Sripathy for India Currents/CatchLight Local.

Sports is part of the culture in the Rajoura family. Both of Rajoura’s grandparents were wrestlers. Ranveer’s father, Sanjeev Rajoura, was a Track & Field athlete himself, also competing in the 400m. Ranveer’s mom, Seema Rajoura, stays physically active and encourages both Ranveer and his younger brother Abhay to do the same. It’s not always about academic education, she says, “it should be more balanced.” 

When he was younger, Rajoura would race with his paternal grandfather in the park. Both father and grandfather noticed the strong legs and stamina he had. “So I told him to try track out, because I could see that in him. And it kind of worked out,” says Sanjeev Rajoura.

Rajoura knew he would be doing track when he started high school. His focus was sharpened by a strong desire to break the current 400m record at Foothill High School. He wants his name up there next to Tomas Kersulis, a former Foothill High School student who currently holds the record for the 400m.

Ranveer Rajoura trains for the long jump at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, CA. Photo: Sree Sripathy for India Currents/CatchLight Local.

Ambition does not end there. “I want to go to a Division 1 school and hopefully the Olympics one day,” he says.

It is that intensity that allows Rajoura to stay sharp when racing. He mentally cycles through the strategy points his track coach Jorge Quero has given him. When to go to full speed, when to maintain, to reaccelerate, and to kick are vital to winning a race. He’s often dead last in his races. But then: “you’ll see me come out of nowhere” says Rajoura.

Ranveer Rajoura trains for the 400m at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, CA. Photo: Sree Sripathy for India Currents/CatchLight Local.

Quero says Rajoura has a gift that not every sprinter has. “He knows how to finish the race. But it’s something natural. It’s not something that anybody teaches. It’s something that he has in his mind, in his physique. He knows how to finish a race faster and faster and faster.”

“I think it’s going to be an excellent learning process for him, because he’s going to compete with the top athletes in the nation,” says Quero.

The Rajoura family will be in Sacramento cheering on Ranveer as he competes nationally for the first time. Medaling is important to Rajoura. But, he says: “If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. I’ll still know I gave my best.”

Sree Sripathy

Sree Sripathy is a writer, photographer and disability advocate based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a 2022 CatchLight Local Fellow and part of the California Local Visual Desk program. Sree also...