Cyclists at the ongoing training camp at Sidho Kanhu Velodrome in Ranchi on Friday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Jamshedpur, June 7: Pedal stars are sweating it out at Sidho Kanhu Velodrome, Ranchi, which has been abuzz with activities ever since the state government opened the facility’s doors for talented yet hapless cyclists on May 15.
Initially, the camp was to conclude on May 31 but the state sports department extended the training session till June 10, allowing the cyclists to hone their skills further for the upcoming national meet in October.
A total of 26 boys and girls attended the camp between May 15 and 31. Currently, nine boys are ironing out rough edges under mentor Arshad Khan. The government is only providing the facility and the cyclists are taking care of daily diet on their own.
They are confident that the medal numbers will swell during the national event if they are allowed to practise like this over the next few months.
“Yedi isi tarah se camp chalta rahan to medal pakka hain. Bahut accha lag rahan hain yahan abhyas karne mein (If the camp continues like this, medals will certainly come. I am feeling really good for being able to practise at the velodrome),” Lakhan Hansda (26), the lone international cyclist from Jharkhand, told The Telegraph over phone from Ranchi.
Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) had gifted an imported racing cycle to Lakhan in 2013. A resident of Damodih village in Potka block, East Singhbhum, Lakhan has no job and is finding it hard to meet the expenses of his daily diet. So he has sought funds from the public sector giant for his food expenses.
Dhanbad-based Ram Kumar Bhatt (26) added this feel-good gesture from the state government was a bonus for cyclists. “We have been deprived of the velodrome for the past two-and-a-half years but now things have changed for better. I am confident of winning a medal if we are allowed to train here till September or October,” Bhatt, who works as a private security guard,” said.
Mentor Khan added that the ongoing camp was a boon for the cyclists. “My wards are talented and a bit of help from the state government would improve chances of their success. I have requested the sports department for a further extension. Let’s see how things unfold,” he told The Telegraph over phone from Ranchi.
He added his wards won five medals — four bronze and a silver — at the 34th National Games with just 42 days of training in Jamshedpur and Ranchi.
“I am confident that the number of medals will swell if the camp is stretched further. It should be a regular exercise. States like Punjab and Haryana conduct training camps throughout the year,” he added.
Jharkhand Cycling Association joint secretary Moin Khan also expressed confidence on the medal front if the camp was extended.
Among others Narendra Hansda, Somu Hansda, Naveen Kumar, Arindam Biswas, Rajender Mahto, Dilip Mahto and Jonko Sundi have been training at the velodrome Since May 15.