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Velodrome ready, cycles missing

While the Indian cycling team is excited about the opportunity presented by the only velodrome in the country, the problem for them is a little more basic. Most of them still don't have the cycles they need to train and compete at the highest level.

other Updated: Jul 23, 2010 23:44 IST
Siddhanth Aney

While the Indian cycling team is excited about the opportunity presented by the only velodrome in the country, the problem for them is a little more basic. Most of them still don't have the cycles they need to train and compete at the highest level.

The majority of the cyclists who formed the three India (White, Green and Orange) teams at the ongoing invitational event at the Yamuna Velodrome are using their personal bikes to compete. Most don't come anywhere close to the slick, superlight machines made by Fuji, Azzurri and other top of the line manufacturers that the riders from countries like Australia and Malaysia compete with.

The problem is that the equipment is highly specialized and costs a small fortune. Just the rear disc wheel comes for upwards of Rs 60,000. A good bike could set you back at least Rs1.5 lakh, a huge amount given that most Indian cyclists come from modest backgrounds.

State federations help their riders to some extent while those with jobs in the public sector also receive financial assistance. The Sports Authority of India has ordered for new bikes but so far the equipment hasn't reached those who intend to use it.

Cahyan Chowdhry, head coach of the team, was straightforward in his assessment of the situation. "The medal tally at the Commonwealth Games can come down as we haven't got the desired equipment and cycles of international standards. We have asked the government to expedite the process of importing the cycles. Even if we get them a month prior to the Games, we can perform well," he said.

Amandeep, a coach with Punjab Police who is working with the women's team, echoed the sentiment. "Times will come down considerably once we get the right bikes. The women are doing really well, given the equipment they have. Once we get the new bikee, we can expect more medals."

Unfortunately, this is a story that typifies the attitude of the decision makers in the country. While thousands of crores have been spent on infrastructure like the velodrome, the relative pittance needed has proved to be a roadblock.

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