National Cycling: Escow hogs the limelight

Competing in a higher age category, Esow comprehensively beat his challenger and team-mate Arkaprava Baul by half-a-cycle length to win the gold.

Esow Alban... a new national record in the under-18 boys' sprint event.

Esow Alban is touted as the next big star of Indian cycling and at LNCPE Velodrome, on Saturday, the cyclist from Andaman and Nicobar showed why he is rated so highly by blitzing his way to a new national record in the under-18 boys' sprint event of the 69th Senior, 46th Junior and 32nd sub-junior National Track cycling championships.

Competing in a higher age category, Esow comprehensively beat his challenger and team-mate Arkaprava Baul by half-a-cycle length to win the gold. Esow clocked 11.207s to break P. Sanuraj’s old mark (11.620) which was set in 2015. This is third gold medal of the meet for the rower-turned cyclist who trains at the National Cycling Academy in New Delhi. "I was confident of breaking the record. I was doing well in training. Sprint is my favourite event and I competed in the under-18 section as there was no sprint event in under-14 and under-16 sections," Esow said after the race.

Esow’s record was the highlight of the penultimate day’s proceedings which saw Kerala maintain its lead at the top of the points table. Deborah of Andaman and Nicobar renewed her rivalry with Kezia Varghese in women’s sprint and easily beat the Kerala girl in the two races to decide the gold winner. With the neck injury preventing her from going all out, Kezia’s chance depended on her start but Deborah’s superior speed proved to be the difference between the two riders. Deborah, after trailing Kezia, overtook her at the curve to win the gold.

Sanuraj of Services won the men’s sprint event beating Railways' Amarjeet Singh. Kerala women won the 4000m team pursuit event comprehensively over Railways. The trio of Sayona, Amritha and Kezia Varghese were consistent even as fourth rider Rejani dropped out when two laps remained in the race. Kerala finished at least 50 metres ahead of its rival to win the gold in 5:37.861s. Railway men won the team pursuit beating arch rival Services for the gold.

But Karntaka underlined its growing stature in the track events by winning the 4000m team pursuit gold in both boys' and girls' sections in the under-18 category. The State doesn’t have a velodrome but a majority of Karnataka cyclists competing in the nationals are trainees of the National Cycling Acadmey and they are behind Karnataka’s success this year. Karnataka, with two gold medals, climbed to second spot in the points table with 40. Kerala leads the table with 62 points. Manipur is third with 32 points.

The results:

Men: 4000m Team pursuit: 1. RSPB (4:41.040s), 2. SSCB, 3. Rajasthan; Sprint: 1. P. Sanu Raj (SSCB) (11.226s), 2. Amarjeet Singh Negi (RSPB), 3. Ramesh Nagarajan (TN).

Boys: Under-18: 4000m Team pursuit: 1. Karnataka (4:54.393s), 2. Rajasthan, 3. Punjab; Sprint: 1. Esow (A & N) (11.207s - NMR; OR - 11.620, P. Sanu Raj, Kerala, 2015).

Women: 4000m Team pursuit: 1. Kerala (5.37.861s), 2. RSPB, 3. Manipur; Sprint: 1. Deborah (A &N) (12.456), 2. Kezia Varghese, 3. Manorama Devi (RSPB).

Girls: under-18: 4000m Team pursuit: 1. Karnataka (5:40.781), 2. Kerala, 3. Maharashtra; Sprint: Shushikala Agashe (Maharashtra) (13.081), 2. Anu Chutia M (Assam), 3. P. Nayana Rajesh (Kerala).