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Rio on their mind, cyclists look ahead

other Updated: Feb 21, 2013 02:00 IST
Sharmistha Chaudhuri
Sharmistha Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Sharmistha Chaudhuri

Cycling may be one of the world’s most popular sport but unfortunately, the last time India participated in the event in the Olympics was in 1962. That’s what the federation in the country wants to change, but one step at a time.

Playing host to the 33rd Senior and 20th Junior Asian Cycling Championship in Delhi in March, they are well aware that the continental event will start the qualification process for the 2016 Rio Games. Not only will March 7-17 be vital for the Indians in terms of accumulating points, but will also give them a chance to brush shoulders with the world’s best.

Take youngster Deborah. The 19-year-old from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, who took up cycling because it’s popular where she stays, has become one of the most promising juniors in India. “When the tsunami (2004) hit us, our family ran into the jungles for shelter. Our house had been washed away,” she recollected. Not only is she the reigning junior national champion, she also grabbed silver in the seniors.

After the Lance Armstrong scandal, the sport has taken a hit. But Sombir Singh, who participated in the CWG, was quick to point out that you can’t blame the sport for an individual’s performance. The federation also added the cyclists in the national camp are subjected to random dope tests.