Guwahati, Jan 12 (IANS) Young Megha Gugad sees herself as an aberration. She hails from a family of wrestlers and kabaddi players, but she herself is an ardent cyclist.
But then, she has a clear and logical explanation for her different life-choice: A quiet revolution is sweeping the deeper parts of Karnataka, taking every second youngster in its wake.
“You can call it a revolution. All the cyclists who are doing well for Karnataka now come from Bagalkot or Bijapur,” Gugad revealed, just after bagging the silver in the girls’ U-21 individual time trial event at the ongoing Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG).
Indeed, Karnataka picked up four medals on cycling’s opening day and each of the winners hails from the districts of Bagalkot or Bijapur.
Megha, who hails from Kulahalli in Bagalkot, started cycling in 2010 after she responded to an advertisement in a local newspaper.
“An uncle in the village told my father to send me to the cycling trials held by the Youth Empowerment Department hostel in Bagalkot. That’s how it all began,” she said.
Of course, she now holds a job with Railways, ensuring that she can train under coaches Ninjappa Yentetta and Vijay Singh Rajput.
U-17 bronze medallist Soumya Antapur’s story is not too different. She also attended the trials for the same Bagalkot hostel, before graduating to the senior hostel in Bijapur.
She won the 2019 national junior title in Rajasthan last year and managed only a bronze here.
“It’s never easy… Coming to a new venue, not being familiar with the conditions and the competition is always top notch. I’m happy with the bronze, but not entirely with my own performance,” she said.
Boys U-21 bronze medallist, Raju Bati, joined the Bijapur hostel on his father’s wishes.
“For some reason my father thought I would do well in cycling. He passed away a few years ago, and I’m glad he pushed me into the sport,” Bati said.
In a hot U-21 field, Bati’s bronze was worth its weight in gold. “There were two national champions from 2019, who haven’t medalled here, so you know, it is obviously quite pleasing.”
The trio was joined by Sampath Pasamel who won bronze in the boys U-17 time trial.
There are enough indications that the Bagalkot-Bijapur bastion will endure. “If we keep winning medals, more youngsters will read the papers and hopefully get inspired. That’s how success endures,” Gugad said.