We catch up for a quick chat with the champ from Coimbatore…
Practising a sport requires commitment and dedication but excelling at it warrants grit and sweat.
JK Aswin a gold medallist from the Track Asia Cup 2017 and a third generation cyclist takes us through his epic journey of spinning the wheels to glory.
- What was your inspiration to take up cycling?
- Coming from a family of cyclists, there was no lack of inspiration and motivation. My grand-dad, late Mr. Jayaraman was a cyclist in the national road cycling team from 1958 to 1962 and my dad Mr. Krishnamoorthy was a member in the national squad from 1984 to 1987. I was a late bloomer, started riding a bike when I was seven years old. I had always been fascinated by the medals and certificates stacked up by my granddad and dad, and once on the bicycle, the joy of riding inspired me to aim for my own collection of medals.
- A note on the formative years?
- In the first couple of years a lot of time was spent riding with my dad. These were fun rides along Kovaipudur and through the villages around Coimbatore. This helped me build my riding technique and connect with the bike.My first taste of racing was at the age of ten in the Tamilnadu State Cycling Meet in 2009, where I finished 4th in the under 13 category. Post the win, the fun rides were gradually substituted with more intense training days. Three to four hours of riding on the bike became a norm during weekdays and weekends were booked for hill training sessions in The Nilgiris.
- Why track racing?
- The different disciplines in cycling require specific skills. A 100 Km stage race requires endurance and efficient usage of energy reserves, and a track sprint requires muscular power, ability to understand the competitor’s weakness and technique to ace. I was hooked on to speed and quick short sprints so picked the latter. Another key reason that was pivotal in me choosing track riding was the necessity to train indoors considering safety on open roads. We in India are still warming up to cycling as a sport and road users are not used to a bicyclist riding speeds over 40 Kmph.
- Stepping up from the state to the national arena, how did the transition happen?
- It started shaping up in 2014 when I was selected for training in the national camp hosted by the Cycling Federation of India and Sports Authority of India. The training was scientific and focussed. The regular training rides were measured and post training effects analysed. Speed and duration became secondary parameters and training with heart rate and power was introduced. In time, I got to understand that recovering off the bike, post a training session was key to performance than slogging it day in and day out on the bike. The technique was to push the body and mind to higher levels of performance through High Intensity Interval Sessions (HIIT), give the muscles just enough time to recover, gain strength and slot in another HIIT session focussing on another performance parameter.
- And how about the training camp organised in Germany?
- The big jump came when the Indian Squad at the CFI camp enrolled for a three-month training program in Germany between June and August 17. We were trained by the German national coach in the Cottbus Velodrome. The formula was to train, race, recover and repeat. The team was not allowed to use mobile phones for three months and the training was intense. We also had the opportunity to compete with teams from other European nations and the take-away was immense. Competing with these Olympic standard teams became part of the training schedule and we were able to fine tune on understanding of aerodynamics, riding posture and race strategies.
- And what is your next goal?
- The interim goals that I have set is to represent India and win accolades in the 2018 Commonwealth Games to be held in Queensland, Australia and also have my eyes on the Asian Games in August 18 at Indonesia. Good results in these two would win India a berth in the 2020 Summer Olympics at Tokyo. This would be a big one for us as a nation as we will have the Indian Cycling Team win a slot to compete in the Olympics after a break of 56 years. The last time India was represented was in 1964 at the Tokyo Olympics.
- 2012, 13 and 15 – National medallist in Track Championship
- 2012 – National child award for Exceptional Achievement, from former Hon’ble President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee
- 2017 – Track Asia Cup. Gold in Team sprint, Men junior and Bronze in Sprint event, Men junior Category
Wish Aswin good luck in all his exploits.. Keep riding and soar high Champ..!!