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Buzz off, sports babus tell cyclists

Jharkhand’s pedal stars may have dreams to power their wheels. But, dreams alone don’t win medals.

The state sports department has turned down a request from Jharkhand Cycling Association to extend a practise camp for cyclists at Ranchi’s Sidho Kanhu velodrome in the run up to the national meet in October.

The gates of the facility, which was abuzz with training activities for the past 26 days, remained shut once the camp — in which 26 boys and girls took part — ended on Tuesday.

Mentor Arshad Khan said the cyclists were all back home. “They will now need to train on their own. I had sought an extension, but the sports department turned down the request. Officials said they would communicate to me when cyclists can use gears and the velodrome,” Khan told The Telegraph over phone from Ranchi.

The camp, organised by the state sports department, started on May 15. It was to end on May 31, but was extended till June 10.

The cyclists, who had promised to win medals if allowed to practise at the facility, are now crestfallen.

Among them is Jharkhand’s lone international cyclist Lakhan Hansda, who hails from East Singhbhum’s Damodih village.

Abhyas bahut acchha chal rahan tha. Mujhe ummeed thi ki sarkar abhyas karne ke liye aur samay degi. Mein ghar aa gaya hoon. Ab khud se abhyas karna hoga (I felt very good at the camp. I was hopeful that the government would extend it. But I am home and will practise on my own),” said Hansda.

Criticising the government’s decision, an official of Jharkhand Cycling Association said: “The coach and his wards wanted the velodrome to practise. They were taking care of their daily expenses. How can players be motivated to win if there is no respect for them in their own state.”

“The boys were sluggish at the start of the camp. But they gradually gained speed and endurance. I was sure our medal count will swell if they got more practise. Now, everything is back to square one. How can one expect medals from them,” Khan said.

Sports director Dadan Choubey said he would look into the matter once the cycling body sought extension in writing. “I will look into various aspects related to letting out the velodrome,” he added.