For Rajesh, it is very much a story of coming back from the brink as he was bed-ridden for six months. The 24-year-old narrated how the tragedy struck him in his hometown last February.
"I was training with a motorbike which was right ahead of me. My cycle's speedometer touched 79.8 kmph and the bike rider ahead of me suddenly throttled down, causing the collision," the soft-spoken rider told IANS.
He spent the next 20 days in the hospital and the recovery was painfully slow, raising a serious question mark over his blossoming cycling career.
"To be honest, I did not even think about cycling while I was in the hospital bed. It is a miracle that I am back on the pedal. My family also had to go through a traumatic phase. Now I want to make this second chance count," said the scratch race specialist, whose family spent Rs.3.5 lakh on his treatment.
The Indian Railways employee showed remarkable courage to comeback and seven months after the accident, he became the first Indian to qualify for an individual event in the World Championships, by securing 10th place in Asian Cup in Iran.
In the recently held Worlds in Belarus, he could not give his best as the team's cycles could not be transported there in time.
"It is sad that we could not give our best. It was good exposure nonetheless and something that will help me in the Championships here. I have been training at the velodrome here for the last six months and that has proved to be of great help," he said of the lone world class facility in India.
As for his goals, Rajesh says: "I want to do something big for my country."
Incidentally, Rajesh still admires Lance Armstrong in spite of his being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and an Olympic bronze on doping charges.
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