Stuck in the chaotic traffic and wish you could glide through the city’s chock-a-block roads? Three city kids are doing just that this weekend. On their roller skates, Rishika Gala (10), Mudit Kapoor (9) and Harsh Sarode (7) will attempt to scale the city from Panvel to Gateway of India on Sunday.
Trained by skating coach and Guiness record holder, Rishi Sarode, the trio will be participating as part of the Kalingastone Skatathon. “The kids will cover a stretch of 100 kms, which nobody has attempted in the country yet,” says the 44-year-old coach, adding, “It’s the best day to give back to the city, it will be an apt gift for Maharashtra Day.”
Year of practice
“The idea is to promote new talent. I select new kids to train every year,” says Sarode who has been coaching for 24 years now, and has been organising the Kalingastone Skatathon for the last five years. Last year, his team of nine tiny tots on wheels covered 69 kms. Now, three kids from his batch at National Sports Club Of India in Mahalaxmi have been toiling every day for over a year to set this record sweep. “We will start at 5 am from Panvel and reach Gateway at 1.30 in the afternoon,” says a confident Rishika Gala, a student of Green Lawns High School in Breach Candy.
In a city that is not even pedestrian-friendly, the idea of strapping on skates and touring may sound bizarre, but Sarode and his team are the least daunted. “We’ve already practised on the stretch, and since we start very early in the morning on a state holiday, we are not expecting to face any traffic woes,” he says. Ask him what was his biggest challenge training his army of three, he says, “They are all very driven and their parents are very supportive. For me, it was hard to see children, who are usually driven around in AC cars, sweating it out on the road for hours.”
While Gala is sticking to salads and healthy vegetables, Mudit Kapoor of Billabong High school in Mahim, says there are no such diet restrictions for him. “I carry a bottle of water and some fruits and dry fruits for the ride,” he says. The two add that their classmates, at first, were shocked to find out the Herculean task they had at hand. “They didn’t believe us. But now, my friends from school and cousins from out of town are coming to watch. My dad’s also booked a bus for everyone to follow us around,” adds Kapoor joyfully.
For Sarode, it will be a day to see “small people doing big things.” Those who wish to cheer the young gliders can also take to the wheels with them for the last 5 km stretch. “We encouraging anyone above the age of eight to come and cheer for these youngsters,” he adds.