Thursday, June 20, 2024

Riding the hurdles with a winning spirit: Agasthi Chandrasekhar

Agasthi Chandrasekhar

Agasthi Chandrasekhar
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“When I fall and get hurt, I rest a little, ice the spot, recover and think of how not to repeat the same mistake,” says Agasthi Chandrasekhar, the Hyderabad-based 14-year-old who bagged a silver medal at the BMX National Series 2023-Series 1, held at the Nilai Race Track in Malaysia.  Agasthi is the first Indian to compete in Race BMX and win a medal. 

BMX race is formally known as Bicycle Motocross, a self-propelled pedal sport. In this sport contestant/riders race in groups of up to 8 around a specially designed track competing with the goal of getting to the finish, fastest. Riders are tested on dirt tracks with rollers, jumps, and turns to challenge their skills. The track usually consists of a starting gate, a groomed, a serpentine, dirt race course made of various jumps and rollers and a finish line.

After that race, Agasthi continued training in Malaysia for another two weeks before he headed to Thailand to compete in the Thailand BMX Cup – Series 2. He will soon be off to Las Vegas to train under Conner Fields — a former BMX Olympian. He will be training for a big league race — USA BMX National Race to be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 5-6.

MetroPlus chats with Agasthi, who is in Hyderabad for a short break.

Agasthi Chandrasekhar

Agasthi Chandrasekhar
| Photo Credit:
Special arrangement

Our first question is —Does he get nervous each time he is on the track? “Yes, all the time. Every rider is a champion in his own way. So when on the track, it is all about winning and no mercy.” 

Agasthi shares his experience of the Malaysian BMX Series-1: “It was an Olympic-size track and my first experience in competing on a big track with strong riders. This race saw riders from China, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and the UK. I qualified for the finals and finished seventh. This was a learning experience as I competed with champions from different nations.” 

Agasthi Chandrasekhar in green jersey

Agasthi Chandrasekhar in green jersey

Agasthi — along with his mother Anupa Sekhar and 10-year-old sister Adya — spends most of his time in Malaysia where he trains. Anupa adds, “Malaysia is like a second home for us though we have a tourist visa and stay at an Airbnb. Agasthi will be finishing four more races in Malaysia and Thailand each, this year.” Meanwhile, Agasthi is also planning to debut in the World Junior Championships at Scotland later this year.

Hometown training

How did it all start? “I started my BMX journey pretty late. I got introduced to it when Wallride Park was established in Hyderabad. I didn’t have a bike in the beginning, so I did not know what to do. My first coach Hamza Khan at WallRide Park gave me his bike — which was too big for me — and initiated me into BMX. Until then I was doing triathlon rides.” 

Anupa is a cyclist and a certified Kalaripayattu teacher. She recalls that Agasthi came, on a whim, with her for an endurance ride when he was just five-years-old. “I thought he would do just a few kilometres. So I told my husband (Chandrasekhar R) that he should be ready to come pick up Agasthi whenever I called. But he cycled 67 kilometres! We were surprised. Later, he went on to do a 100-kilometre ride with me. After he initially trained with Hamza at WallRide Park, his father and I asked him to choose and he chose BMX. Since his BMX journey started pretty late, we decided to continue training in Malaysia. Being schooled in alternative schools — Waldorf, and White Noise Academy (homeschooling) — he is able to balance his schooling and training.”  

In Hyderabad, a team takes care of Agasthi’s training, rehab, strength training etc. “Coach Hamza is always there for me; he follows my training schedule in Hyderabad. Kamalesh Thigulla of Yeti Strong works on my strength and conditioning; he incorporated my post-injury rehab program with my training when I suffered two hairline fractures.”  Sports physio Dr Somya Rout, nurtritionist Aruna Prasad and psychologist Julie Iyer are the others on his team. 

Agasthi says the track can be quite intimidating when a race is on . “All of us compete in a tight area, we not only have to concentrate on our own form and race but also navigate through what others are up to, so our vision and mind have to be engaged but without getting distracted. The coaches guide BMX racers on all the other important aspects.” 

Anupa shares that initially they bore all costs for training. Later, financial support came in from a few firms and individuals.

#Riding #hurdles #winning #spirit #Agasthi #Chandrasekhar

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