Peddling towards development: A brief history of cycling in India

If the argument, the development of sports in India is like the movements of a frog in well needs any illustration, it is evident in the case of sports like cycling.

How did his sport catch on in India, are we anywhere near world standards in this sport which has one of the toughest sporting contest-the Tour de France, as it is believed. Are there enough facilities with us to raise our standards to world rankings?

 This is understood to an extent when you read the evolution of this sport as rendered by the national administrative body that is in place to promote this sport which has a tradition in India too as in the West.

    Cycling as a sport was introduced in India through the efforts of Sh. Janki Das in mid thirties. It found its International level when Sh. Janki Das, the lone Indian Cyclist participated in the British Empire Games at Sydney (Australia) in 1938 with Swami Jagannath accompanying him as Manager.

    With their pioneering work, the sport was to secure affiliation of National Cycling Federation and the National Cyclists Union of England. A few years later, another stalwart Sh. Sohrab H. Bhoot of Bombay and Sh. Janki Dass joined hands to further lift cycling sport, forming the National Cyclists Federation of India in 1946 and secure affiliation of this new body with the international Body Union Cyclists International (UCI). The same year, an Indian Cycling Team participated in World Cycling Championships held in Switzerland. Thereafter, Indian cycling teams participated in London Olympics in 1948 & World Cycling Championships at Amsterdam in 1946 & Brussels in 1949.

  Cycling was also one of the sports in first Asian Games held at National Stadium, New Delhi in 1951. At that time Sh. Sohrab H. Bhoot, who was President of National Cyclists Federation of India, formally constituted the Asian Cycling Federation with himself as its founder President.
During the first Asian Games, the following Indian Cyclists won medals:

1. Sh. R. K. Mehra : Silver Medal in 4000 Mtr Team Pursuit

2. Sh. Madan Mohan : Silver Medal in 4000 Mtr Team Pursuit

3. Sh. Lhanguard : Silver Medal in 4000 Mtr Team Pursuit

4. Sh. Gudev Singh : Silver Medal in 4000 Mtr Team Pursuit

5. Sh. N C Bysack : Bronze Medal in 1000 Mtr Time Trial

6. Sh. Sanwas Shah : 4th Position in 120 Miles Road Race

Besides the above, the Indian Cycling Teams participated in various International Championships & Road Races from 1951 to 1955.

Late Sh. Amar Singh Sokhi won Silver Medal in 4000 Mtr. Individual Pursuit held in Japan as part of Asian Cycling Championships in 1962.

     In 1955, the National Cyclists Federation of India ran into some difficulties with the Government of India, leading to withdrawal of its recognition, and as a result the Indian teams could not participate in any of the International Competitions/Championships. The stalemate continued for about 6 years.

   It was 1962, when the Indian Olympic Association, through its good office could get the dispute resolved with the selection of Sh. Abhijit Sen of Sen Raleigh Cycles as President of National Cyclists Federation of India.  Subsequently, the Federation with its new office bearers, was granted recognition by the Govt. of India. Soon after breaking the ice, an Indian Cycling Team consisting of Late Lalbir Singh, Sucha Singh, Late Amar Singh Billing & Late Amar Singh Sokhi & Chetan Singh Hari with Sh. R. K. Mehra as Manager cum Coach, participated in 1964 Tokyo Olympics as a part of Indian Contingent. The team, which did not have any practice on 45 degree track as in the Tokyo Olympics, obviously could not put up any creditable performance. This became a restraining factor for future International participation. Again after a gap of 6 years with the persistent efforts of the office bearers of the recreation a team of 9 cyclists and 2 officials was sent to participate in the VI Asian Games, Bangkok in 1970 as a part of Indian Cycling Teams in International Competitions/Championships. .
In 1966, the name of cycling body in India was changed to its present Cycling Federation of India in conformity of General Regulation of Olympic Games Indian Olympic Association. The election of office bearers earlier held after every three years but the tenure was amended to 4 years through its Constitution in 1979, in line with the Indian Olympic Association.

FACILITIES: The first facility for cycling sport was created in the form of a concrete track in National Stadium, New Delhi which was built around an athletic track in 1951 for 1st Asian Games with a maximum elevation of 27 degree on the curves and to a length of 466 mtr. A second similar track was built in Vallabh Bhai Patel Stadium, Bombay in 1952. Another track was also built in Yadvindra Stadium, Patiala with bitumen surface having a length of 469 mtr & maximum elevation of 12 degree at the curves. One bitumen track of similar type with a slightly higher elevation at the curves was built in Ranteevra Stadium, Bangalore around 1960 – 61 another in sport school, Rai in 1974.      The first good track nearly to an International Standard was built in Punjabi University, Patiala in 1975. This is a track of concrete built around an athletic track with a length of 500 mtr and a maximum elevation of 38 degree at curves. Since then, this track has been used for a number of National Championships. Inter University Championships, Inter Railways Championships & for National Coaching Camps to prepare Indian Cycling Team for International Competitions/Championships. Another track of similar type was constructed in Bikaner (Rajasthan) curing 1980. Having these tracks, the two cities, Patiala and Bikaner have assumed the role of nurseries of cycling sport.
Some more progress was achieved with the hosting of IX Asian Games organized by our country in 1982. An International standard concrete track was built in New Delhi & named as Yamuna Velodrome. This track has 333.33 mtr length with maximum elevation of 38 degrees at the curves. This track was built after detailed calculations & consultations by experts and civil engineers. The entry to arena is through a tunnel with no facilities for other play ground inside.
At present, there are more tracks of International standard beside the above 6 tracks:-

1. Punjabi Agriculture University, Ludhiana : 333.33 mtr

2.Jaipur, Rajasthan : 333.33 mtr

3. Pune, Maharashtra : 333.33 mtr

4. Trivandrum, Kerala : 333.33 mtr

5. NIS Patiala :

6. Railway Recreational Club, Secundrabad :

7. Imphal : 333.33 mtr

8. Hyderabad : 333.33 mtr

Under Construction :

9. Jabalpur

10. Guwahati

Comments are closed.