In March 2019 Esow Alben created history by becoming the first Indian to clinch the number one position in Men’s Sprint and Keirin on the UCI Ranking. 10 months later, Ronaldo Singh is ranked No. 1 in all junior sprinting events while the Indian Team is also at No 1 position in Junior Team Sprint Event.
Junior cyclist Laitonjam Ronaldo Singh scripted history after he became number one in all sprinting events of Cycling in the latest UCI ranking. The Manipur boy is ranked No. 1 in Individual Sprint, Keirin, and 1 Km Time Trial while the India team are perched at the top in Junior Team Sprint Event with 1620 points.
The Indian junior men’s team currently consists of Ronaldo, Paul Collingwood and Rojit Singh. Rojit Singh is ranked 2nd in Junior Sprint and 3rd in Junior Kerin.
The Indian women’s junior team is ranked 2nd in Junior Team Sprint. Trishiya Paul is No.3 in Time Trial and Nikita is No. 2 in the Keirin. The Cycling Federation of India expressed satisfaction in a social media release, “Credit goes to our dedicated coaching team under Mr.R.K Sharma and thanks to Sports Authority of India and Honda Scooters and Motorcyles P Ltd. and T10 Sports for their unflinching support and partnering in our success.”
In recent times there is a commendable interest in Cycling and youngsters find their freedom with racing bikes in India.
All these recent achievements by Indian youth started with Esow Alben who created history by becoming the first Indian to top the UCI world rankings last year. Hailing from Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Alben wants to be remembered as Esow Cyclist. He was also the first Indian to win a silver medal in the Men’s Keirin event at the World Junior Track Cycling Championship held in Switzerland on August 2018.
Esow’s journey started when he won silver medals in Scratch Race and Time Trial in the sub-junior category at the 67th National Championships in Kerala in 2015. He was then picked up for training in the National Cycling Academy and hence he moved from Port Blair to New Delhi.
Being the son of sports parents, (his father Alben Didus was a cyclist and his mother Lelly Alben was a Kabaddi player) Esow Alben was interested in playing. His mother got his name enrolled at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre at the Netaji Stadium in Port Blair. He initially started with Rowing but his short height was not conducive enough to be a rower. So he switched to Cycling.
In 2018, Alben won 3 gold medals in Team Sprint, Keirin and 200m Time Trial at Junior Asian Track Cycling championships in Malaysia. In 2019, he carried forward his previous year’s performance by winning gold in Sprint, Team Sprint and Keirin events.
But Esow’s most matured performance till date is at the World Junior Track Cycling Championship in 2019. In Germany, Alben won silver in Individual Sprint event and bronze in Individual Keirin event. Besides, Esow alongside his teammates Ronaldo Singh and Rojit Singh, won the gold in the Team Sprint event. This was India’s best-ever performance in a world event of Cycling till date.
India’s Ronaldo also has magic in his feet but he has the habit of setting the Cycling track ablaze. Ronaldo was second to Esow Alben when Esow rose to number one spot. Around one year later, he overpowered his friendly rival to become numero uno in world junior Cycling.
This Ronaldo was named after Brazil’s one of the greatest Football players Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima. It was a matter of pride to Laitonjam Romen Singh that his son was born some days after Brazil won the World Cup in 2002. A die-hard Ronaldo fan, Laitonjam named his son Ronaldo to show his love and respect to his Football hero.
Soon after pivoting India to win the gold medal in Team Sprint in World Championship held in Germany, Ronaldo Singh won four gold medals in Track Asia Cup held in New Delhi in September 2019. In the tournament he smashed the Asian Record in the men’s junior 200-m Time Trial event by setting a timeline of 10.065 seconds, beating the previous record of 10.149 seconds set by China’s Li Qui.
Ronaldo also bagged a gold medal in the Men’s Junior Keirin event at the Asian Track Cycling Championships being held in South Korea in 2019.
Cycling as a sport in India has taken a huge plunge in the last 5 years. With regular medals and top positions in Junior level and commendable performance in senior level, Indian Cycling promises to have a shining future. The cyclists now have a well-maintained velodrome in the Indira Gandhi Stadium and a dedicated coach in R K Sharma. The Federation now has the sole motive to ‘Catch them Young’ and groom them for the world stage. Hopefully, there will some good results in the future by Indian cyclists in Olympics.