Top mountain biker dies after fall from Khardung La

Jul 14, 2017, 13:10 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh

Ajay Padval was one of India's best downhill bikers
Ajay Padval was one of India's best downhill bikers

"My son lived his dream and unfortunately, he died because of it. But still, I appeal to all parents to encourage their wards into such sports. I am proud that my son inspired many like him," said Sheetal Padval, mother of 22-year-old downhill biker Ajay Padval, who died tragically after receiving delayed treatment for injuries he sustained post a steep fall in the Khardung La mountain pass in Ladakh.

Pune-based Ajay was one of the country's best downhill bikers. He was performing the sport in Leh on Tuesday, when he fell in the Khardung La pass. He was travelling with six other cyclists.

Raced ahead
Ajay had raced ahead of others and suffered the fall, possibly because of a burst tyre. He sustained injuries near his eyes and his neck was also affected. Defence personnel and the Indian Mountaineering Foundation helped transport Ajay to a hospital. He fought for his life for 20 hours, but was pronounced dead on Wednesday noon at the SNM Hospital in Leh after he didn't respond to medical treatment.

One of Ajay's bikes. His mother would be donating his bikes and 22 pairs of shoes
One of Ajay's bikes. His mother would be donating his bikes and 22 pairs of shoes

Ajay had completed his bachelor's degree Business Administration from the Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce and was working on various projects to customise bikes. He is survived by mother Sheetal, businessman father Pramod and elder brother Amar, who is in the earthmoving business.

The Padval family
The Padval family

Hundreds gather for funeral
His mortal remains were brought to Pune on Thursday as hundreds of bikers and relatives gathered for his last rites. His friend Abha – who was with him in Ladakh – hugged Sheetal and said sorry for her loss. But Sheetal said, "Please don't be sorry, this is an unfortunate incident. Do keep my son's sport alive. I would like to see many more Ajays in the coming years."

Speaking to mid-day, she said, "I am a proud mother. So many youngsters turned up for my son's funeral and that too, in this rain. He is alive. I have seven bicycles of his and around 22 pairs of shoes, which I will give to someone who wishes to pursue a career like my son."

The final goodbye
During the funeral, Sheetal waved to her son and said, "Bye, my son, bye," while Pramod kept saying, "Son, you left us too early. More achievements were to come. Sheetal added, "I was his lucky charm; he never left for any event without saying bye to me. Didn't know that this would be his last expedition."

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