Esow Alben has been on a dream run. At the recently-concluded UCI World Junior Track Cycling Championship in Germany, India registered its best-ever performance at a global cycling event and most of it was down to Alben.
The 18-year-old bagged three medals at the event that included an individual sprint silver, a team gold and keirin bronze medal. Hailing from Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the youngster has put India on the world cycling map and it looks like there is still a lot more to come from him. Here are a few things to know about India’s biggest cycling prodigy:
Last year, Alben scripted history by winning India’s first junior cycling World Cup medal. His achievement came in the men’s keirin event of the 2018 UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships which took place in Aigle, Switzerland.
Even though he crashed out of the 2018 Asian Games in the pre-quarters, he bagged gold at the Asian Junior Track Cycling Championship and then followed it up by scooping three gold medals at 25th Asian Track Cycling Championship. No Indian cyclist had achieved the feat before Alben.
From rowing to cycling
Alben studied at the Government Model School in Port Blair and it was his mother who sent him to the trials at State Sports Council Netaji Stadium, Port Blair after noticing an advertisement in a newspaper for junior athletes.
“It was not cycling. I just turned up for the trials and was okay if they picked me for any sport. When I entered the trial everyone was looking at me because I was very young and had a small height. They selected me for rowing,” the teenager had told Scroll.in.
First big breakthrough
Since most of his friends at the State Sports Council Netaji Stadium enrolled in cycling, Alben also followed suit. He took part in the 67th National Cycling Championships in Kerala when he was 14 and won silver in track cycling which was his first major medal. He later moved to Delhi from Port Blair after being picked for the National Cycling Academy.
Cycling runs in Alben’s blood. His father has been a cyclist himself and had competed in the Police Games while his mother is a former kabaddi player who has played at the National championships.