The Kadma-Sonari Link Road, one of the venues for the cycling trials. (Bhola Prasad)
The road to competitive cycling in Jharkhand is cratered with cash crunch and improvisations.
Barely a handful of lucky professional state cyclists will whiz on imported racing bikes during the daylong selection trials on September 22 to vie for berths of Kurukshetra (Haryana) road nationals between October 24 and 27.
As the Ranchi velodrome in Hotwar and imported racing cycles — built and brought with taxpayers’ money — continue to stay out of bounds for state cyclists, most aspirants to the nationals will pedal ordinary Indian-make cycles modified into racing gear and the trials will be held on Jamshedpur or Seraikela-Kharsawan roads.
Cash-strapped Jharkhand Cycling Association is eyeing either Tata-Kandra Road in Seraikela-Kharsawan or Kadma-Sonari Link Road in Jamshedpur.
The association needs to take permission from Seraikela-Kharsawan superintendent of police Inderjit Mahata to use Tata-Kandra road.
As far as cycles go, desi ones are the only option for aspirants, more cash-strapped than the organisation.
“We allowed cyclists to use Indian-make ordinary cycles for trials. We are aware that such gears unfit for competitions but we are helpless. We need an adequate number of participants for trials as we can’t select a state squad otherwise,” said Satbir Singh Sahota, Jharkhand Cycling Association secretary.
He claimed around 40 cyclists, including girls, were likely to turn up for the trials. “Players in rural pockets of East Singhbhum and helped by Tata Steel Rural Development Society (TSRDS) as well as some from Ranchi and Bokaro possess modified racing cycles,” he said.
Asked why the state body allowed cyclists to participate with modified version when gears were far from fit for competitions, a JCA office bearer added they were “completing a formality”.
“Neither do we have resources nor can our cyclists afford proper gear. We have conducted just one race after National Games in 2011. We need to host events for the morale of our players,” he said.
The state body doesn’t yet know if it can afford to host a training camp, normal practice before any national competition. “Cost is the major hurdle. It will be a futile exercise to seek the government’s help. As of now, we are not sure how many cyclists will actually head for the Kurukshetra nationals,” the office-bearer said.
East Singhbhum’s Lakhan Hansda, the sole international cyclist of Jharkhand, his brother Samu Hansda, and West Singhbhum’s Dilip Mahto are three cyclists who boast racing bikes that can be used, thanks to corporate majors Uranium Corporation of India (UCIL) and Tata Steel.
Dhanbad-based cyclists Anita Kumari, Ram Kumar Bhatt and Navin Kumar have imported cycles but in very bad shape. “I am keeping my fingers crossed. The wheels of my cycle are in tatters but I don’t have money for repair,” said Ram.
Navin added that he planned to ask Bharat Coking Coal Limited for help. “Let’s see,” he added.
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