Will Odisha’s Star Cyclist Swati Singh Treat Setback As Challenge?

Bhubaneswar: Despite having won more than 30 national and international medals, Odisha’s star cyclist Swasti Singh seems to be feeling heart-broken as she was not selected for the 19th Asian Games being held at Hangzhou in China. Following her exclusion from the Indian cycling squad, she even thinks of quitting the sport.

Swati, a trainee of SAI Centre of Excellence in New Delhi, won a gold and four silver medals in the Khelo India Women Cycling League (Track Event, East Zone), held at Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium in Ranchi on September 20 and 21.

She won the gold in Women Elite 500m time trial and one silver each in keirin, 300m individual pursuit, 200m sprint and 7.5km scratch race. She also secured first position in the Omnium event of the recent Asian Games selection trials.

The Rourkela girl has been in a good form. In the Khelo India Women Cycling League (Road Event, North Zone), held recently in Amritsar, Swati won gold in 40km mass start and one bronze in 20km individual time trial.

The star cyclist started the year with an impressive show by winning the gold medal in the 90km event of the 27th National Road Cycling Championship, held in Shirdi, Maharashtra in January after winding up with a shining performance. She had bagged a gold and one silver at the 74th National Track Cycling Championship in Guwahati, Assam.

The 22-year-old was in the Indian women’s team that clinched the bronze medal at the 41st Senior Asian Track Cycling Championship in New Delhi last year. That was the fourth international medal for Swasti. She has won one gold, one silver and one bronze in international events.

Stating that she has been been training for years together to represent the country at the Asian Games, Swati said she has also been winning medals regularly in national and international competitions. “However, all my efforts and achievements failed to give me an opportunity to compete at the Asian Games. I feel dejected and disheartened. I see no point in carrying on,’’ she said.

Many others, including sports observers, are also of the opinion that Swasti deserved to be included in the Indian squad for the Asian Games. They also find discrepancy in the selection process. According to one observer, while no female was selected for the endurance event, one male cyclist was chosen for the Madison event even as he competed in Omnium, team and individual pursuit at the last Asian Championship in Malaysia.

However, they are of the view that Swasti has the potential for a bright future as she is only 22. They feel that Swati should treat the setback as a challenge and work hard with renewed vigour and determination to be able to compete in the Asian Games in future.

The ace cyclist, they say, should be sent abroad for a rigorous training. She should at least train under a foreign coach for which the Odisha government must provide the much needed support to enable her to further sharpen her abilities.

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