- 17-year old Esow Alben scripted history by winning India’s first junior cycling World Cup medal in the men’s kerin event of the 2018 UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships. The tournament took place in Aigle, Switzerland.
- The boy wonder is on a roll! The year 2018 has been particularly fruitful for him.At the beginning of this year, he won a gold medal at the Asian Junior Track Cycling Championship. Then he became the world number one junior sprinter in July.
- Later, he added three golds to his medal tally at the 25th Junior Asian Track Cycling Championships in Malaysia.
- His next aim is, of course, the Asian Games 2018. We simply cannot wait to see how he makes the country proud this time!
India will make its 18th appearance at the Asian Games in 2018. The games scheduled from 18 August to 2 September are second to only the Olympics in grandeur and prestige. They are a platform for budding athletes to showcase their talent. Many known as well as unknown faces will be fighting it out in the field to bring top laurels for our country. While some are experienced athletes who have mastered the trade, others are debutantes hoping to shatter records.
Nothing unifies Indians the way sports does. People from all over the country gather and cheer their fellow countrymen. This versatility and spirit of unity are what makes our country special. Our sportsmen come from remote corners of the country. One such rising star is Esow Alben. Coming from the picturesque Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the teenager has captured the imagination of the entire nation. He became the world number one junior sprinter and brought a smile on our faces. Now, he is ready to take another step at the Asiads.
Esow Alben – The Rising Star
Place of Birth: Port Blair (Andaman & Nicobar Islands)
Event: Junior Cycling
Parents: Alban Diddus and Lelly Alben
School: Government Model School, Port Blair
Coach: RK Sharma
Height: 162 CM / 5’4″
Weight: 73 KG / 161 LBS
- Cycling is in Escow’s DNA. His father Alban Diddus is a former cyclist. He has taken part in many inter-police sports meets. He gets sporting genes from his mother as well. Lelly Alban is a former kabbadi player who has participated in national championships.
- His father works as a head constable with the fire force. He is posted on the on the remote Teressa Island. His mother is a class IV officer at the Kadamtala Forest office on Middle Andaman Island.
- Both parents have encouraged and motivated Esow to pursue a career in sports ever since he was little. In fact, his mother sent him to the State Sports Council Netaji Stadium for training. He enrolled in rowing initially. However, he later switched on to cycling due to his low height.
Training and Early Life
Esow made the entire country proud by winning the silver at the UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships
- Later, he decided to shift to Delhi after getting selected in the National Cycling Academy.
- It was a tough decision for Lelly to send his youngest son away. “Esow is the youngest, but dearest to me. To send him to Delhi to train was very tough for us,” she recalls.
- At the Academy, he was the youngest student. Sudhendu Sengupta started coaching him there. Esow used to practice of hours and was very observant. The teacher is extremely proud of his star pupil.
“There were around 20 junior cyclists, including Esow, who trained under me. He would spend hours watching others train on the cemented track and would practice till late. After one month, his mother told me that Esow had stopped attending school. I ensured that he returned to school but he later told me, ‘Sir, this training is my real education”, reminisces Sengupta in an interview with The Indian Express.
- Esow’s first training lessons started with Colnago bikes. These had very basic wheels. Even the tracks they used to practice on were not aligned to national or international standards.
- These shortcomings did not stop Esow from giving his very best and mastering the sport.
- Esow’s real journey started at the 67th National Cycling Championships in Kerala in 2015. He won the silver in the under-14 500m time trial event.
- At the beginning of 2018, he won a gold medal at the Asian Junior Track Cycling Championship. Then he became the world number one junior sprinter in July.
- In the 25th Junior Asian Track Cycling Championships in Malaysia, he added three golds to his medal tally.
Esow Alben from Manipur becomes the 1st Indian to win a gold in Asian Junior track Cycling championship
He Won a total of 3 golds in the event-2 individuals(Keirin & Sprint) & 1 in team event with Mayur Pawar & James Singh ?
— Indian Football Team-For World Cup (@IFTWC) February 21, 2018
The Historical Feat
- Esow Alben created history by winning India’s first junior cycling World Cup medal. His achievement came in the men’s kerin event of the 2018 UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships which took place in Aigle, Switzerland. He also won a medal in the team event with Mayur Pawar and James Singh.
“I could have won (gold) but I am still happy with a silver. I’m happy that I could win a medal in World Championships”, he told Times of India.
“I just wanted to stay at the front and avoid getting involved in any crashes,” he continued.
He missed out on the gold by just 0.017 seconds. Czech cyclist Jakub Stastny won the gold. The 17-year old received a lot of praise from all over the country for his amazing feat.
“My heartiest gratitude to our coaching department under Mr. RK Sharma and the relentless cyclists who are putting their heart out to achieve what at one time seemed impossible,” Onkar Singh, Secretary General of India told the Times of India.
“WELL DONE, ESOW! Remarkable achievement! May many more medals come your way!,” Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore tweeted.
#EsowAlben wins Silver for India. In a World event. First ever for India in Track Cycling.
Understand and appreciate what he has done. Please look for Nicobar islands on a map. Try to locate it.
— Chetan Sanghi (@ChetanSanghi) August 19, 2018
Teen cyclist Esow Alben scripts history by claiming India’s first ever medal, a silver? at #UCI Junior Track Cycling?♂️ World Championships in Aigle, Switzerland.#EsowAlben pic.twitter.com/F9T04IQhPR
— APN NEWS (@apnnewsindia) August 18, 2018
— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) August 20, 2018
His mother, Lelly comes from a tribal village called Ginyuka. She extremely excited about his son’s achievement.
“Was it really a photo-finish? There has been no contact with his father over the last one week. When he gets to know about the medal, he will be elated. Even though we are saddened by the loss of Vajpayeeji, Esow’s medal has made this day memorable for all of us. My eldest daughter told me she got the news about Esow from the Internet (Twitter),” she said in an interview with The Indian Express.
The Road Ahead
- It will be interesting to see what Esow has up his sleeve for the Asiads. After the Asian Games, the Youth Olympics in Argentina will be another opportunity to prove his mettle.
- What can be a setback for most of us has become a strength for cyclists like Esow. Instead of complaining about lack of facilities or infrastructure, the young boy has made the most of what he has to give his best.
“Most of these cyclists come from tribal villages situated far from the main land. They see their parents and grandparents using cycles and start cycling themselves from a very young age. Cycling on the sand and on the beaches at the junior level makes them strong, and natural picks for the national camps,” says V Renjith Kumar, secretary, Andaman and Nicobar Cycling Association.
Esow’s feat is a lot more commendable considering his age. The Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games are the perfect platform for the boy wonder to stun us again. At an age where most of us absolutely clueless about what we are doing in life, Esow has already achieved a lot. He has set himself on the course to create history and his journey has just begun.
Indian cyclists are truly on a roll this year and Esow is their flagbearer! We wish the champion all the very best not only for the Asian Games but also for all his future tournaments.
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