MOMENTS BEFORE the time trials race in the Sixth Asian Para-road Cycling Championship in Manama, Bahrain, last month, Chandigarh cyclist Abishek Singh hit a road barrier while adjusting gears prior to the race. The 26-year-old suffered injuries but the cyclist decided to take part in the event and won India’s first gold medal in the event in the 12.8 km individual time trial event. The para-cyclist, who had won two silver medals in the 2013 edition of the event, made history for India as the silver and bronze medals were also claimed by Indian cyclists Divij Shah and Harinder Shah. “It was minutes prior to the event that I hit a barricade while adjusting the gears of my cycle. I suffered injuries but decided to continue. The conditions were windy in Bahrain and it was a tough task adjusting to the conditions for all of us. I am glad that the Indian team won all the three medals in the event. It is my first-ever gold medal at the Asian level and this is my biggest achievement in my 10-year cycling career,” said Singh, who competed in the C-2 para-cycling category in the event.
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Born with his right leg shorter than his left, Singh started cycling 10 years ago and practised early on the city roads. It was in 2013 that the para-cyclist was approached by Chandigarh Cycling Federation president Rakesh Mohindra to appear in the trials for the Asian Para-Raod Cycling Championship held in Delhi. Singh went on to win two silver medals with one medal each in the 10 km time trial and 40 km mass start race in the Delhi event. He followed up the performance with a silver in the Chandigarh State Championship in 2014 before being the champion in the Bahrain event. “My father the late Baldev Raj used to take me to school on a cycle and I always wanted to cycle. Initially I started training on my own but later I got support from Cycling Federation of India and Chandigarh Cycling Federation. Taking part in outdoor events is always a challenge. Winning the silver medals in the Asian Championships in Delhi boosted my confidence a lot. Later in 2015, Aditya Mehta Foundation sponsored me and gave me a Rs 1.25-lakh cycle in 2015. It has been a great support for me,” said Singh, whose mother Harbans Kaur is a constable with the Chandigarh Police.
Singh is now targeting the world Para-Road Cycling Championship to be held in Italy in April later this year. The Bahrain trip was also sponsored by the Aditya Mehta Foundation, Hyderabad, and Singh is training in Chandigarh for the event. “Conditions in Italy would be completely different as compared to Asia and other cities. We will have a training camp before the championships and I am aiming for a top-10 finish in the world championship. Winning a medal in world championships will also help me get a job as I am without a job at present,” said Singh.