This 17-year-old national level cycling record holder with cerebral palsy just got selected to the Special Olympics!
By Vaishnawi SinhaCerebral palsy can become an obstacle for many but it was not reason enough to hold back 17-year-old Abhishek Gogoi from breaking a national record for cycling.This multitalented teenager holds a national record of 19 minutes and 12 seconds, which is the 12th fastest timing in World for the 10 km Individual Time Trial in cycling in the Special Olympics category.By setting this record, he qualified to participate in the Summer Special Olympics 2019 to be held in Abu Dhabi in March.His mother, the sole wage earner of the house, couldnt afford proper equipment for Abhishek and so, he has been borrowing bikes to compete in major tournaments because of which, Ketto, a crowdfunding platform started a fundraiser for his benefit. Abhishek says that his cerebral palsy never came in the way of him trying to achieve his dreams and never affected his performance in the race. The young boy is proving to be an inspiration to young athletes all over the nation, especially those fighting cerebral palsy.No money for cycling equipmentsAt a young age, Abhishek lost his father to cancer, leaving his mother as the sole wage earner of the household. Not surprisingly, the family couldn’t afford any cycling gear for him.He has been using borrowed equipment and bikes for his training and to compete in tournaments and because of his undying determination, he has been invited to a training camp in Rajasthan to prepare for the Special Olympics qualifiers. When asked about his feelings about breaking the record, Abhishek exclaims,advertisement”I felt very happy when I came to know that I had broken the record. But I believe that all records are meant to be broken and even my record will be broken by someone.”‘I take my condition as a challenge upon myself’Abhishek feels that his condition has not yet had an affect on his performance in any race but has instead acted as a push for him to achieve higher goals.He was always interested in cycling as a child but his condition led him to lose balance and injure himself several times. Strangely, this motivated him to pursue cycling even more than before.Cerebral palsy can lead to discomfort in muscular movements and can sometimes cause major disbalance during physical activities but Abhishek trained vigorously to power through it. “I wake up at 4:30 in the morning and ride from my home till Bharalumukh and back (10 kms). After reaching home, I have breakfast and spent some time with my family and pets, says the national record breaker.””After lunch, I again take my cycle and ride around the town till evening (15-20 km approx). Then from 8-10 pm, after my studies, I hit the gym to work out and keep myself fit,” says Abhishek, explaining his training schedule.Abhishek’s future goals As of now, Abhishek’s goal is to promote cycling as a sport everywhere in the world even though his future plans are not very concrete as he loves to do things in the last moment.He is currently studying commerce at IGNOU and holds both studies and physical fitness as equally important. However, his dream is to follow in his father’s footsteps.”My future dream is to make movies like my father. I want to win Oscar and bring glory for my country,” he says.Abhishek’s cricket coach, Venkatesh Ram, and Satbir Singh Sabote, the director of Special Olympics (Bharat) were major motivators for this young record breaker.How crowdfunding is helping Abhishek achieve excellence Despite losing his father at an early age and the drawback of his condition, Abhishek’s spirit was never broken. The funds raised by Ketto had helped him a lot. He says, “Since I did not have a cycle of my own and was not able to afford a good quality cycle, some good people in Guwahati started an online crowdfunding campaign through Ketto. The campaign was successful and they have gifted me a very good road racing cycle by Giant (Giant TCR SLR).”Ketto started a fundraiser for his benefit with a goal of raising around Rs 1.5 lakh.The online crowdfunding campaign was initiated by a person named Arshel Akhter, who also happens to be the first Bicycle Mayor of Guwahati. He was supported by Bikash Doley, partner Spokehub, the Giant cycles dealer in Guwahati, says the cyclist.The crowdfunding campaign helped reach out to a larger audience and a lot of people globally who we never knew personally. Without this, it would have been impossible to reach out physically to these many contributors, Abhishek says, praising Kettos effort.advertisementYou can contribute to his success here.An inspiration to the teens of our timeAbhishek’s success as a cyclist is an inspiration to many. His spirit and drive to achieve his goals made his family very happy and made our entire nation proud.He only had one piece of advice for all aspiring achievers: “Believe in yourself. Never give up, no matter how many times you fail or what people think about you. Just prove them wrong.”Read: This woman is helping girls stay in school after puberty with eco-friendly and safe menstruation solutionsRead: How Swajals solar powered Water ATMs are solving Indias water problem