Coimbatore: The city has always churned out sporting talents, be it in motor racing, go-karting, shooting, archery or golf. The latest in the list are seven cycling champions, who made the city proud at the national cycling championship that was held in Pune recently. The district cycling association said there was a growing interest in the sport.
M Sanjay Saravanan, who was an athlete, said it was coach Gurusamy at the Swami Vivekananda Matriculation School in Annur who introduced him to cycling first. “As soon as I began cycling, I enjoyed how it felt and I was thrilled at the speed I could achieve. I participated in the district cycling meet in 2016, when the district association spotted me and kept in regular touch with my coach regarding my progress. Since I did well, I was sent for a camp conducted by the Sports Development Authority of India (SAI), which then selected me for training in 2017. Since then, Delhi has been my base where under SAI’s guidance I am pursuing Class 11 in a supportive school and cycle more than two hours a day.”
Saravanan’s parents had no objection to their son moving to New Delhi to pursue cycling.
Pooja Shwetha, 12, a student of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan school, was introduced to the sport by her father Murugan. She won silver medal in the 500m individual category under-14. “I started cycling when I was around 10 years old. I feel free and special when I cycle and the fact that I am good at it makes me want to try representing the country soon.”
According to her father Murugan, a cyclist himself, cycling definitely has a bright future. “It is a sport she could pursue lifelong. There are so many events, which have cycling for a cause and it is a sport that is getting attention. It has many opportunities.”
Krishnamurthy, secretary of the district cycling association, said cycling was growing in popularity among the 10-14 years age group. “We have at least 50 students training with us in this age group, and another 50 students in the age group of 14-18 years. The main issue is that racing cycles are expensive, costing Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh. We have some cycles, which we offer for practice, but if more sponsors were to come forward it will surely help more parents encourage their children to take up the sport,” he said.