"This is just the beginning for us. We are so proud. We came here to gain experience and see how we can perform against European cyclists."
After taking part in the UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships for the first time ever earlier this month in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, the Indian team is hoping to further develop the sport across the country.
“This is just the beginning for us. We are so proud,” said India’s head coach Katkam Dattatraya. “We came here to gain experience and see how we can perform against European cyclists. Para-cycling is developing in India and we are so happy that we can participate in a UCI event.”
C2 Asian champion Abishek Kumar added: “I always wanted to be at a World Championships so for me this is like a dream come true. I’ve wanted this for 11 years and it feels great to be here.”
Although he fell sick before the Worlds and was warned by his doctor not to compete, Kumar was not going to let the opportunity slip through his fingers. “I may not have been at my best but it’s not about winning. It’s about participating. I have met many athletes and feel encouraged.”
C3 cyclist Kaigoulal Kaigoulal said: “I was scared but it is so amazing to be in Pietermaritzburg. It has been beyond my expectations.”
In India, most of the Para cyclists are former soldiers who were injured in the line of duty. They can train thanks to the support of the Cycling Federation of India, the Aditya Mehta Foundation and the government.
Earlier this year, a team of eight Para cyclists also benefitted from an intensive training camp in the city of Hyderabad under the guidance of two-time Asian Para cycling silver medallist Aditya Mehta.
The full story is available on UCI’s website.