Onkar Singh: 'Indian cycling on right track'

Three other cyclists including Deborah managed to break into top 10 rankings in the world and Deborah became the first Indian to compete in World Cycling Championships early this year.

Onkar Singh

Onkar Singh, secretary general of Cycling Federation of India, has targeted 2024 Olympics for a coveted medal.   -  Special Arrangement

Three years ago the top ranked India cyclist in the world list was placed at 149 but this year Indian junior men were ranked number one in the world in team sprints.

Three other cyclists including Deborah managed to break into top 10 rankings in the world and Deborah became the first Indian to compete in World Cycling Championships early this year.

Onkar Singh, secretary general of Cycling Federation of India, feels that Indian Cycling is on the right track and has targeted 2024 Olympics for a coveted medal. "Our target is a podium finish in the 2024 Olympics. It is a realistic aim considering that the current crop of riders who are under-14 years of age should be at their peak by 2024. We will have two or three cyclists qualifying for the 2020 Olympics. Before that, we will be aiming for a podium finish in the next Asian Games. Our cyclists are near to the Asian standards. It is a jinx which is preventing them from winnings medals at Asian level,’’ said Onkar Singh.

The establishment of National Cycling Academy in New Delhi has done wonders to the sport. Nearly 40 trainees under 14 years of age undergo training throughout the year at the centre. The trainees are chosen from trials which are held all over the country. "Obviously we are concentrating on juniors. They are given state-of-the art training facilities, equipments and best coaching at the centre. The progress of the each trainee is closely monitored and those who are not up to the mark are weeded out. I am happy with the performance of our youngsters in this Nationals and their improvement is reflected in the number of records they have set in this meet,’’ said Onkar.

"The SAI and world cycling body UCI are supporting us well. The UCI supplies us cycles costing Rs 10 lakh each at subsidised rates. They also supply us the spare parts, riding equipments and gear. This year, two of our cyclists Kezia Varghese and Deborah trained in South Korea for two months under UCI scheme," he added.

The state of the art indoor cycling velodrome in Delhi is a boon to the Indian cyclists. "It is a world class training centre. We have got requests from cyclists from Malaysia, Thailand, Iran, Kyrgyzstan and SAF countries to train at the NCA and at the indoor velodrome," he said.

As part of efforts to provide competition to the cyclists in India, the federation has been hosting international events in India for the last three years. "This February we will be hosting the Asian Championship. In the past we had hosted Asia Cup and invitational meets. Through this we are keen to provide much needed international exposure to our cyclists,’’ he said.

The CFI general secretary said that following the success of National Cycling Academy, the federation was mulling the idea of starting satellite academies in four zones with the cooperation of SAI. Onkar Singh also revealed that the federation was in talks with UCI for getting services of a foreign coach to reduce the workload of chief coach R.K.Sharma.