Dream is to win medals for India, says Keralite cyclist Sreenath Lakshmikanth

Sreenath Lakshmikanth
Sreenath Lakshmikanth also runs a cycling academy. Photo: Special Arrangement

The recently-concluded 37th National Games held at Goa saw a Malayali winning two silver medals in cycling. Twenty-seven-year-old Sreenath Lakshmikanth, who hails from Cherthala, won medals in the 120 km Road Race and 41 km Individual Time Trial (ITT) representing Tamil Nadu and the results are a big leap from his last year’s performance. Sreenath had finished with a bronze in the Road Race event and in sixth place in ITT, in the 2022 National Games.

“I reached this stage after many years of hard work, but I see it as just a beginning. From here I want to work towards my goals of winning international medals,” says the cyclist, who is based in Ooty and runs a cycling academy named SL7. “Ooty helps with high altitude training and I also get to train junior riders and other cycling enthusiast here. That helps me follow my passion and also make an income out of it, without depending on another job” he says. 

Sreenath trained in Palakkad too to prepare for the National Games. “I trained in the Palakkad – Coimbatore Highway to acclimatise with flat roads and the hot climate,” he says. 

He had also taken part in the UK’s Gran Fondo cycling event in September, finishing 140th out of the 300 competitors. “It was an Asia Cup standard 160 km race with a 2000m climb, and it's tougher than our Nationals. I participated for the first time and I was selected for it after taking part in the qualification race in Dubai,” he says. 

For the past eight months, Sreenath has by training under American two-time world champion cyclist and Olympian Amber Nebon. “My body type doesn’t suit Indian races much, though I can perform well abroad. I started training with a foreign coach to help with these factors and I can see positive changes now.” 

Sreenath Lakshmikanth
Sreenath Lakshmikanth's dream is to win medals for India. Photo: Special Arrangement

Sreenath, who is also a British cycling certified coach, has trainees across India. “Not everyone can afford a foreign coach. But being a trainer myself, I am trying to impart what I learn to cyclists who come to me and also earn in the meanwhile.”

He started cycling while studying in Maharaja's College, Kochi, from 2013 to 2018. Ask him why he is riding for Tamil Nadu instead of Kerala since last year and Sreenath says, “The facilities to train are much better in Tamil Nadu and thus, it’s convenient for me to ride for TN rather than coming to Thiruvananthapuram and ride in state meets.”

He also mentions the lack of adequate support as a major challenge he faces as a sportsperson. “Sportspersons are very positive people who find ways to chase their dreams even amid crises and that’s the kind of people a society needs. If they are given financial and media support, imagine what they can achieve,” he says.

Cycling is a big sport worldwide. Photo: Special Arrangement

Sreenath strongly feels we should support other athletes also like we support cricketers. 

“The effort put in are the same, but cricket has a lot more money involved, that’s why it invites attention. But if you also support other sports, it’s not only helping sportspersons, but also helping youngsters see that there are many good options in sports. Cycling, for instance, might not be a big sport here but it is, worldwide.” 

He also confesses about pressure from near and dear to find a job, start a family and the like. “If I was a self-centred cyclist, I could have done that. But there are many like me who want to bring a change in the sports arena here. I hope more support comes our way over time,” he adds.

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