I want to see our tri-colour flag on top of the world – R. K. Sharma (Chief Coach, Indian Cycling Team)

1. Tell us about your career in cycling sport ?

Served in Indian Air Force for 27 years as HR Manager.  Represented Services Cycling Team for 10 years from 1989 to 1998 having won 9 medals at Nationals. In 2013, took a volunteer retirement and went for International Coaching Diploma from International cycling Union, Aigle, Switzerland at own cost (spending more than 10 lac.)

Successfully passed the Diploma (the highest coaching qualification offered by the international union) and National Federation offered me to take charge of the National team from Jan 2014.

Since then, with very limited resources, equipment, facilities available in India I managed our team to top podium positions at various international competitions in past 3 year’s time.   Also the biggest achievement was our Men Junior Team Sprint team stood world No. 1 in UCI Track Rankings in the  mid of 2016.   Besides this, I have bettered more than 20 National Records in past 3 year’s time.

2. What attracted you to this sport ?

Cycling is my passion. I am only staying in India because I want to see our tri-colour flag on top of the world,  I will do my 100% if situation permits in future.

 3. Is the sport growing in India like hockey, football, table tennis, badminton etc?

yes it is growing rapidly, and our National Federation is committed to work tirelessly for the development of the sport in our country.

4. If so, how is it going?

It is going great. If things go in a planned way with full equipment support, then surely we will be winning some major international competitions.

5. What do we lack compared to leading countries in this sport?

Our system is too old & slow.More ever we have to think how the leaders in cycling think, we have to do what they do.Means, right from equipment support to keeping and grooming only (R) only extra talented kids. Catching them at right age (young) and groom them carefully under able guidance.   We are also lacking professional coaches.

Secondly, we don’t want to come out of our comfort zone. I will give you a example : that at NIS which is pioneer body in India to pass expert coaches in all the fields. Every year there are about 400-500 coaches pass with Coaching diploma in hand. Now how many World champion or Olympian these coaches produce?  The answer is …….(guess)

6. Are women, girls also taking to this sport without restrictions at home?

Yes there is no gender difference.   Cycling sport have equal number of medals at Olympics for both men and women.   India does not have any restrictions on girls taking cycling sport as their career.

7. Is there dropout problem in case of talented women cyclists?

NO. Every talented rider is given equal opportunity at domestic and international level.

8. What about the problem of infrastructure?

NO comments.Yes we need better training facilities.

9. The shortage of velodromes ,the right type of cycles seems to be a problem?

Yes you are close. Not only velodrome, we need good roads for practice, which is not available in any part of the  country (free from traffic & safe (you know the driving sense of India))

10. How will the coming Asian track event help development in India?

Holding this type of bigger competitions brings world class riders to home.   It is a good platform for youngers riders to see and our national riders to get a chance to compete with these world class riders.    This definitely helps our riders manifolds.

11. Can cycling be introduced in schools like other sports? What is the base?

The National Federation is conducting School championships every year.  And we have a good participation from schools across country.

12. Which are the front line states in Cycling sport  ?

Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Rajasthan,  Haryana to name a few.   We have a strong participation at National Championships where in more than 20 states/units take part.

13. Who are the cyclists doing well internationally-men,women and juniors?

Deboarh Herold a women elite rider ranked world no. 4 in 2016 in her time trial event and she qualified for 2016 world championships at London in Mar 2016.   Nayana Rajesh and Anu Chutia are women junior riders took a Gold at Track Asia cup in Delhi in Sep 2016.   our Men junior team sprint team comprising Sanuraj P, Sahil Kumar and Emerson ranked world No. 1 in 2016. And we also have our young section also, which you gonna see in coming years.

14. What about availability of international class coaches?

Just me.
15. Can we ever win an Olympic medal?

Why not? When things will start moving in a planned way.

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