The sprinter has been featured by Chelsea FC for his heroics in Doha
Noah Nirmal Tom is one of the top athletes of India who competes in 400m and in 4 x 400m relay categories. He represented India in the 2019 World Championship in Doha in the men’s 4x400m relay team along with Amoj Jacob, Muhammed Anas, and K Suresh Jeevan.
But it was the mixed relay category that earned India an Olympic spot. The Indian mixed relay team of Muhammed Anas, Vismaya, Krishna Mathew and Noah Nirmal finished in the third spot in the second heat of the semi-finals behind Poland and Brazil with a time of 3:16.14 to reach the final. India even bettered their previous best of 3:16.47.
The final entry ensured India received a spot in the 4x400m mixed relay event at the Tokyo Olympics.
Noah was in the news recently after featured on Premier League outfit Chelsea FC's social media page along with Bollywood star Arjun Kapoor in a chat show. So who is the athlete who is gaining recognition?
Noah Nirmal Tom hails from Calicut, Kerala. It was his school coach, Jose Sebastian, who honed his skills during his childhood and insisted that he made a career in athletics. However, right from a young age, he has been a huge fan of Chelsea.
In the aforementioned chat show, Noah revealed that he was a sports fanatic right from a very young age and would spend most of the time on the playground rather than inside the classroom.
"In school days I used to find comfort on the playground rather than in the classroom. I used to play football and not athletics. In the sixth standard, I started my athletics career," he stated.
He idolises Chelsea’s former striker Didier Drogba and his favourite Chelsea memory is the win over Barcelona in the semifinal of the UEFA Champions League in 2012.
In 2010, he enrolled himself in the Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel at Kozhikode to get into a professional athletic setup and learn from the best.
AT SAI, he met Coach George P Joseph who thought it would be best for him to race in the 400 metres category. He considers this to be the turning point in his career. After four years, he took the next leap and joined the Indian Air Force (IAF). He blossomed into a professional 400m sprinter under coach Rajmohan MK of Air Force and started making a name for himself in the domestic circuit. He clocked 45:96 seconds in one of the competitions which propelled him into the Indian camp in October 2018.
Noah usually trains in Patiala along with hundreds of other national athletes. He is the anchor in relays (runs the final leg) and believes in the philosophy of 'catching them at last.' And in Doha, he walked the talk as he was instrumental in helping India qualify for the Olympics.
"India was in the fifth position when I was handed the baton. And in the last 10 metres, we became third and we qualified. It was a fight. It's like the last-minute of a football match. It was a proud moment to get that Indian jersey in your hands.
"We were so happy, proud and thankful when we saw the result and confirmed our berths to Tokyo. The World Championship at Doha was a big stage. We were mixed up with excitement and nervousness, but decided to run and make India proud."
Noah doesn't have any inspiration as such but he looks up to Muhammed Anas, his teammate, and gets motivated by his heroics.
"I always perceive challenges in accordance with him, it’s like if he can do it, I can also do it," said the athlete to fistosports.
Apart from qualifying for the Olympics, Noah won gold in 4 x 400m relay at the 2018 National Championships. But the jewel in his crown remains the gold in the 400m event in National Championship 2019.
"We were told to participate at the National Athletics Championships immediately after the World Championship and so, we directly came to Ranchi, Jharkhand from Doha. But I was unsure about my fitness and I was the defending Champion in 400m. I did not expect anything of the race and I am extremely glad and thankful to God for wrapping up the Championship," reminisced the quarter-miler.
Noah has excelled in relays and he now wants to focus on arriving in Tokyo in the best possible shape. During the pandemic, he has been following a daily fitness routine monitored by his physio and coach as he does not want to leave any stone unturned before heading into some of the top competitions in the world.
"Keeping the Tokyo Olympics in focus, I am currently only concentrating on relays. Making myself fitter and bringing out my best in relays is my ultimate priority at the moment. But definitely, I should improve my 400m individual timing for relays," said Noah reflecting on his future training sessions.
Although he is training with a vision to excel in the Olympics, he remains far-sighted and believes that the year 2022 will be crucial for him as the Asian Games (Hangzhou) and Commonwealth Games (Birmingham) are scheduled to take place.
His target is to improve his individual credentials in those tournaments and hence he is paying attention to solo race events as well.
"I am looking forward to doing well at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games and I’m concentrating on the individual event (as well)."
India bettered their individual best in Doha and now it remains to be seen whether Noah and co. can level up and flourish at the Olympics.