SRINAGAR: Born in Check-i-Kawoosa village in Narbal area of Budgam district, 22-year-old Parwez Ahmad won Bronze medal at the National Road Cycling Championship 2020 in March of this year by gathering the required equipment, including a top-end racing cycle, from his friends and peers.
As a young boy, cycling was a way for Parwez to commute to school, run errands for his family and to explore the world he was born in. But after years of riding his labourer father’s Roadster Jet bicycle for fun, Parwez realised that he was not only the fastest in his village but also that riding a bicycle had become more than just a passion for him.
“At 13, I participated in my first cycling competition,” Parwez told Kashmir Observer. “I came 6th among dozens of cyclists while riding my father’s Roadster.”
Soon after, Parwez’s father recognised his son’s passion and couldn’t say no when Parwez asked for a racing cycle.
“He bought me the basic Desi racing cycle. But it was enough for me to pursue my dreams.”
Parwez credits his schooling in the art of cycle racing to Budgam’s ace cyclist, Muhammad Akbar Khan.
“He is my inspiration. He took me and the other boys under his wing and showed us how professional cyclists train. Now there are 7 to 8 boys from our village who are National gold, silver and bronze medallists.”
Under the shade of his mentor, Parwez participated in Mountain biking championships as well as National and local competitions as a teenager. Practising and improving his balance sense, the strength of his core muscles while also maintaining his diet, nutrition and fitness levels.
“We have the perfect platform for cycle racing in Kashmir that can’t be seen anywhere in India or in the world. The geography and the climate can mould any cyclist’s endurance and technique. What we lack is a dearth of equipment, nutritional support and coaches,” Parwez told KO.
Parwez embodies the relentless spirit of a hard-working cyclist in real life as well. Apart from being a sportsman, Parwez is currently pursuing his Masters in Physical Education from Guru Nanak Dev University, having completed his Bachelor in PE last year from the same university in Amritsar, Punjab.
“I have been training at my University for the past 4 years and the coaches have been extremely helpful. I have improved my skills by training regularly at the University’s Velodrome Stadium. We even get to use University-provided cycles for training and intra-university competition purposes. We have to give them back afterwards.”
While studying outside, Parwez Ahmad competed in many more cycling championships including the prestigious 160-km long Mumbai-Pune Cycle Race. Yet again, Parwez had to lend equipment from his friends.
“Because I’m a full-time student my chances of finding a sponsor or financial assistance from corporations or Government are very less. After my Bronze in the National, Advisors to LG, Baseer Khan and Farooq Khan, both felicitated me. They said the Administration will help me in equipment and nutrition, but I had to go back to Amritsar for my final exams.”
Now Parwez is eyeing Gold at the National Road Cycling Championship 2021 set to be held in November or December of this year. A medal is a direct ticket to All India Cycling Camp 2021, exactly where Parwez wants to be. He further hopes to break the current Srinagar to Leh cycling record – 440 kms in 26 hours 30 minutes.
“I’m certain that with the help of an upgrade in my equipment and proper diet, I would better the current world record by at least 2 hours time.”
A lot goes on behind the scenes when preparing for such record breaking events – months of preparation in terms of nutrition, diet, supplements, equipment and travel.
“I was in this state of mind when I wrote a Facebook post asking for help.”
To Parwez’s surprise an engineer and sports lover, Akshay Koul, saw the post and decided to support the young cyclist.
“I saw the FB post and immediately reached out to him. I felt an online fundraising campaign can help Parwez achieve his dreams,” Koul told KO.
Koul has set up the campaign on ‘milaap.org’ website under the banner ‘Help Parvez National Bronze Medalist – Cycling’. The campaign seeks to raise a sum of Rs 60,000 to help Parwez cover one year of nutrition costs. The fund has been able to raise 15% (Rs 8,865) thus far.
“If I get the support for my nutritional needs I can keep on training for the upcoming competitions.”
Even without a top-end racing cycle in his armoury, Parwez Ahmad has proven time and again that he is the upcoming top gun in the world of cycle racing. All he needs is a bit of support at an important juncture of his sporting career: milaap.org/fundraisers/support-parvez-8
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