Having secured two golds, a silver and a bronze in track and road races in the National Games at two venues situated 890km apart, 28-year-old Manipur cyclist Tongbram Monorama Devi now wants to make an impact in next year’s Asian Games.
Monorama joined her teammates to bag a 4000m team pursuit gold and a team sprint silver before taking an individual 10km scratch race bronze in track events at the cycling velodrome in Delhi. She travelled to Gandhinagar, defied a high fever and overcame a minor accident to claim the gold medal in the women’s 85km mass road race four days later.
“The indoor velodrome in Delhi is air-conditioned. I had a high fever because of that. I was tired but I did not give up. I have never done so in my life,” said Monorama, making her debut in the Games.
“I inhaled steam but did not take any medicines before the race. I didn’t let anyone go past me. I applied my mind and increased the speed to stay ahead in the closing stages (of the 85km race).”
A seasoned cyclist who competed in the 2018 Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, Monorama also survived a scare.
“I got the wheels from a gentleman in Manipur. I had promised him that if something happened, I would give him new wheels. I fell down on the second lap. I checked the cycle first before bothering about myself. It’s normal for cyclists. When we fall down and get hurt, we worry about the cycle as it’s so expensive,” said Monorama.
Monorama said the expensive cycles posed an impediment for a cyclist.
“A good cycle, only the frame, costs Rs 4 lakh. For competing in an event, you need Rs 7 to 8 lakh.
“The Sports Authority of India (SAI) provides cycles to the India campers. Others buy their own cycles. I purchased my first cycle in 2017 after getting a job with the Railways. Half of it was paid by a sponsor. I won two races and got Rs 1.80 lakh. It helped me buy two cycles, for road and track.
“Wheels cost Rs 1.20 lakh for a mass race on the road. If you maintain it (spending Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 per year) well, then you can use it for many years.”
On her own career, Monorama said, “The Asian Games is my next target. I will try my best and ensure a top-10 finish.”
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