Pedalling to the top

Pedalling to the top

Cycling champ

Pedalling to the top
Aditya Mehta personifies the adage ‘turning adversity into opportunity’. After he lost his leg in an accident, he went on to become Indias first para-cyclist. He has won several laurels for India and has registered his name in the Limca Book of Records twice.

Laudable among his achievements is his effort to build a support system for the differently-abled, including the soldiers who were injured while fighting for the country, through the Aditya Mehta Foundation (AMF). Aditya is in the city as part of AMF’s National Sports Camp. The camp will expose shortlisted soldiers to nuances of sports like cycling, badminton, tennis, shooting, swimming and body building.

The Asian Games medallist spoke to Rajitha Menon about overcoming hurdles and making it big.

What were the challenges you faced initially?

Everything from getting a sponsor to designing my own customised limbs was a challenge. Since I was the first amputee to take to cycling, there was no one to lead the way.

Where all have you cycled?

I have cycled from London to Paris, Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Manali to Khardung La, Delhi to Mumbai, Hyderabad to Bengaluru and so on.

Which of these was the most challenging?

Undoubtedly the ride from Manali to Khardung La. The cold was so intense that my nose would bleed and I would get cuts in my flesh. I also missed my family terribly. I couldn’t talk to them much — there were only a few public telephone booths in the area and these would always have huge queues in front. When you do finally make it to the phone, you can’t talk for more than 1-2 minutes as people behind you will start shouting.  

What is a typical day like?

My day starts at 3.30 am with training others, both amateurs and professionals. This goes on for quite some time after which I take a small break.

In the afternoon, I go to the office to show my father that I am working for him also (though I don’t actually). Evening is when I hit the gym with the boys and focus on my own training.

The reactions you get when you cycle...

There have been so many times when I have seen people gape at me and forget to focus on their own driving.

Many a time I have had to yell at some ‘Boss, see in front of you.’ Then there are others who stop to take selfies with me.

Some success stories...

Plenty. For example, at the recent Asian Para-Cycling Championship, all three medals were picked up for India by my team. And at that time, we were in a situation where we had to borrow even basic alloy cycles  The silver medallist, Divij Shah, who hails from Bengaluru, is actually a cricket enthusiast who later developed a liking for para-cycling.

Tell us about your work with the soldiers...

I work with those who have lost their limbs in the line of duty. The main thing is to lift their spirits and get them to realise that they are no less than anyone else.

We must have counselled around 900 people in the last two years. Then we filtered out the ones who showed promise in some discipline and gave them professional training.
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