When Barinderjit Singh or Barry Cheema posted his photo on Facebook in his running gear doing the famous celebration pose of Usain Bolt– who has won six Olympic gold medals and is the world record holder over the 100 meter and 200 meter disciplines– his cousin asked, “Do you think yourself as Usingh Bolt?” Since then, Cheema is popularly known as Usingh Bolt….writes Anjana Parikh
If the Jamaican sprint star is the fastest runner in the world, Walsall-based Usingh runs to raise money for good causes.
“I run a lot more than the great man. Probably, I run more than in one marathon than he does in a year,” he quips.
Running has become a huge passion for him.
“I run four or five times a week and am also a member of a running club. I run to raise money for good causes wherever possible,” he added.
“My best half marathon is 2:09 and my best marathon is 5:03. When I am feeling really good, I can maintain 10 minutes mile pace. So, I do have a good sprint finish although not as quick as Usain,” said Usingh who completed the last 100 metres in just below 15 seconds during the Birmingham half marathon 2014.
Usingh’s first half marathon was the Great North Run in 2006 and his first marathon was the London Marathon in 2007.
“I only intended to run each distance once. I’d been inspired by watching ‘normal’ people like me running in such events on TV and decided it was a good way to get fit, especially as one can go out running whenever they want to. After the London Marathon, I decided to run and see how hard I could push myself. In 2014, I ran six full and 14 half marathons in eight months for Macmillans Cancer Support. Although it was extremely tough and challenging, and took up a lot of my time but it was worth it for the money raised,” said Usingh who works as a client services co-ordinator for an outsourcing company.
Asked how does running help charity organisation? He said, “It’s a wonderful way of doing something challenging which encourages people to sponsor you as they respect the effort, time and commitment you put into preparing yourself for these runs. When you wear the running vest of the charity you are running for, people notice you and the works that these organisations are doing.
“Charities have to raise a lot of money themselves and, running is a wonderful way to do something challenging which is not only good for your health, but also gets people to put their hands in their pockets to sponsor you,”.
Although he doesn’t have the intention to break Usain’s record, but Usingh, for the first time will be participating in the ultra marathon on June 20 this year.
He said, “It is called Race the Wall and is a 69 mile run along the route of Hadrians wall from Carlisle to Gateshead. There is a time limit of 24 hours to complete this. This will be a massive physical challenge and it’s a huge jump from marathon distance but my main motivation is the charity I am running for – Khalsa Aid. They are a charity close to my heart and on a personal level; I believe this is going to be my ultimate physical challenge.”
Originally from Gateshead, Usingh, however, finds it difficult to choose between running and eating. “It’s a tough one as I need to run off what I eat and can’t run if I don’t eat. But I would go for running,” he signed off.