Updated February 19th, 2024 at 19:09 IST

Olympics and world medallists among 500 cyclists to take part in Asian Track Championships

India will be hosting the continental championships for the second time in two years and sixth overall after 1989, 2005, 2013, 2017 and 2022.

Asian track cycling championships | Image:Olympics.com
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Around 500 participants, including 42 Indians and a few Olympics and world championships medallists, will vie for top honours in the Asian Track Cycling Championships, which will be held here from February 21 to 26.

India will be hosting the continental championships for the second time in two years and sixth overall after 1989, 2005, 2013, 2017 and 2022.

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New Delhi was the venue of the championships on four occasions while Ludhiana hosted the continental event in 2005.

Pakistani cyclists will miss the championships as they are "facing difficulties in getting travel documents because of the delay in government formation after the general elections in their country. "Pakistani cyclists were to take part in the championships and our ministry of external affairs have given clearance to them. But they have informed us that they are not coming as their ministry formation is yet to be done," Asian Cycling Confederation Secretary General Onkar Singh said at a press conference.

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"They (Pakistani cyclists) said they can't do the visa process now," said Onkar, a former secretary general of Cycling Federation of India (CFI).

This edition of the championships holds added significance as it serves as the final continental track event before the Paris Olympics. The points collected by the riders from the championships will be counted for the Olympic qualification process.

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No Indian, however, is within striking distance of making it to the Paris Olympics.

"The performance of our cyclists have improved a lot in recent times and they need top class competitions. It is a prestigious continental championships and we are proud of hosting it," said CFI Secretary General Maninder Pal Singh.

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"We are confident that the event will provide an exciting platform for the athletes to compete at the highest level and inspire the next generation of cyclists.

"We are going in the right direction and our target is for our cyclists to qualify for the 2028 Olympics." The championships will be staged at the state-of-the-art Cycling Velodrome at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Complex here.

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Cyclists from 18 counties will compete across various categories, including elite men and women, junior men and women, and para events. Asia's leading nations such China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Kazakhstan and Iran will be among top medal contenders.

"At least four or five Olympics or World Championships medallists will be in the fray in this championships," Onkar said.

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The Indian team, led by the formidable sprint team comprising former junior world number one Ronaldo Singh along with David Beckham, Rojit Singh and Esow Alben, will fancy podium finish.

Multiple Olympic and World Championships medallist Kevin Sireau, who was recently appointed as sprint coach, is expecting a strong show from the Indian team.

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"I have been in charge of the team for six weeks only. No doubt the Indian cyclists are a talented lot and the infrastructure and the equipment are world class. I feel we can do well in this championships," he told PTI.

"Moreover, this championships will give me a chance the access the strength of the team and chalk out future plans." Sireau has been appointed by Sports Authority of India for a tenure of four years, subject to yearly review.

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India had won one silver and eight bronze medals when it hosted the 2022 edition here and the officials are hoping to better the medal tally this time.

Ronaldo had made history in 2022 by becoming the first Indian cyclist to win a silver medal in a continental showpiece in the senior division as he finished second in the sprint race. 

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Published February 19th, 2024 at 19:09 IST