By- Udita Dutta
New Delhi, April 29,
Indian para-athletes put up a brilliant performance to secure 1 silver and 2 bronze at the Asian Road Para-Cycling Championships 2019 that saw 28 countries vying for the podium at Tashkent, Uzbekistan from 23-28 April. Divij Shah continued his remarkable record at this prestigious tournament by clinching his third consecutive silver medal in the C5 category.
“Feels great to have retained the silver position for the third time. A lot of hard work needs to go in to cover up the gap to get the gold. I have received tremendous support from Cycling Federation of India (CFI) and Aditya Mehta Foundation (AMF) to make it to the top,” said an elated Shah on his achievement.
Asian Para Games bronze medallist Gurlal Singh, who is the only Indian cyclist (able-bodied or otherwise) to win a medal at the Asian Games level helped swell India’s medal tally further by grabbing the bronze in the C4 section. Hand cyclist Sudhakar Marathe from Maharashtra made a debut to remember when he got hold of the bronze medal in H5 category.
The 9-member Indian para-athlete squad included 4 border security force para-athletes: Para-cyclists Harinder Singh (Punjab), Gurlal Singh (Punjab), Kaigoulal, and Hand-cyclist Sudhakar Marathe (Maharashtra), and 1 central reserve police force para-cyclist, Birbhadra Singh. Along with the soldiers, 3 civilians — Prashant Arkal (Maharashtra), Divij Shah (Andhra Pradesh) and Arshad Shaikh (Andhra Pradesh) was also a part of the team.
In the past two years, the Indian contingent won a silver and a bronze medal in each edition through Divij Shah and Harinder Singh respectively.
The entire team had undergone rigorous training at the Aditya Mehta Foundation Academy in Hyderabad under the guidance of coach K Dathatraye and physiotherapist Ms Asha Shaikh.
Aditya Mehta, who himself was a para-cyclist and is the founder of Aditya Mehta Foundation had worked closely with the team, trained and travelled for the Championships congratulated the athletes for their medal-winning efforts. “The athletes showed tremendous grit and determination. The medals are a reward for that. It is still a long way to go and lot of hard work has to go in but am proud of the way the boys responded to the competition with the resources available. I am confident they will achieve their dreams and win Gold for India at the highest platforms soon,” said Mehta.
The Aditya Mehta Foundation (AMF) has been working tirelessly under the auspices of Cycling Federation of India (CFI) to help improve para-sports in India.