Image Credits: Madhura Waykar
Are sporting champions born or made? If you ask Madhura Waykar, she would probably smile and agree that both personal perseverance and the encouragement of well-wishers play an important role in the creation of a star.
A number of young cyclists have emerged from Indian in recent years, but few have received the billing that Madhura Waykar has.
Hailing from Mumbai, Madhura says she was a hyperactive kid and was told to try sports to channelize her energy in the right direction. Till 10, she experimented with many sports like swimming, skating, karate, rifle shooting, kickboxing, and cycling. But swimming and cycling was her favourites before her parents asked her to choose one and focus on her studies, she chose cycling.
Madhura says she loves everything about cycling – The Speed. Turns. Climbs. Downhills. The challenges. The way cycling always pushes her to the limits.
Part of a large group of extremely talented young cyclists, the Mumbai native displays confidence and ability far beyond her years. Specializes in the road and track cycling, she already possesses many attributes that will help her progress up the ladder; her main selling point are the excellent agility, athleticism, and confident she shows while cycling.
Over the years, Madhura performed especially well at the National Road Junior Cycling Championship with titles in 2016, 2017 and 2019. She stood on the ‘Cycle Master’ podium no less than three times in five years.
Madhura won a bronze medal in 20km individual time trial in Women Elite category at the All Indian Inter-University Road Cycling Championship 2019 – 2020. She was also a recipient of Shiv Chhatrapati Krida Puraskar, Maharashtra State Sports Award 2018-19.
Eye-catching performances during the 3rd Khelo India Youth Games, Guwahati, Assam at the beginning of the year earned her gold in 20km individual time trial and bronze in 4000m Team pursuit bronze.
Madhura is now 21-years-old and still improving every year. Above all, she epitomises our love of this strangely indescribable sport.
How did you get into cycling, and specifically track cycling? Did you have a go at any other sports growing up?
I was a very hyperactive kid so initially; I was put in sports to kind of channelize my energy in the right direction. Till the age of 10 years, I experimented with many sports like swimming, skating, karate, rifle shooting, kickboxing, cycling and whatnot. But swimming and cycling were my favourites. I was a good swimmer I have also done triathlon. I enjoyed cycling more and in 5th standard, my parents asked me to choose any one game and focus on my studies so that’s when I chose cycling.
In Dec. 2011, I won my first road national medal, it was my second road national and track national was going to happen in Jan.2012, I had absolutely no clue what track cycling is but I was overly motivated with my recent medal and decided that I want go for the track nationals. Then when I spoke to a few seniors I found that track bikes don’t have brakes, they are fixed wheel bikes and when someone says track cycling, the track they mean is not athletics track but a velodrome which was very scary for 11-year-old me.
The first time I rode on track was for the selection trials of the nationals, I was very scared but the moment I got on the bike and started riding I enjoyed it and found it way more thrilling than any other ride. I came 1st in the state and got selected for the nationals but I remember it very clearly that I was not feeling satisfied with the way I had ridden at the state I knew it was not my best and I could do better. So, I went to nationals with the only intention of doing better than what I did at the state, to give my best and that’s exactly what I did and ended up improving 3 secs of time than at states and also won a gold medal at the national. That was also my first-ever gold medal at nationals and at that time I didn’t even understand what a national level medal meant it was just another race for me it was later when someone explained to me that it means I have come first in the whole of India in children of my age did I realize it. And I think that is enough for an 11-year-old person to love the sport even more.
What do you enjoy most about cycling?
Everything. There is so much to it. Pointing out one thing is very difficult and unfair. Speed. The wind that hits me while I am riding. The noise or rather music of the wind in my ear while I am going faster and faster on the bike, it’s my favourite. The Speed. Turns. Climbs. Downhills. The challenges. The way cycling always pushes me to my limits. The emotions I feel when I am on my bike. I am kind of addicted to it all. I enjoy everything about it. Cycling makes me feel invincible and that is one hell of a feeling. As long as I am riding every day I am winning in anything and everything. Every day on a bike is a different experience altogether.
Do you have any mentors or idols who are an inspiration to you?
The kind of efforts and hard work my parents put in day in and day out for me and my sport is my biggest inspiration. That is what keeps me going all the time. I don’t really idolize anyone but I do have an ideal version of me in my mind and I work hard to be her every day.
Is there anything you don’t enjoy about cycling?
I don’t think there is anything that I don’t enjoy about cycling but cycling is an equipment game. Having the right equipment is as important as being physically fit. It’s an expensive sport and keeping up with the upgrades in equipment is a task. That is one thing that I don’t like about it.
How do you cope with pre-race stress/pressure?
Every athlete has a pre-race ritual and stress for me is a part of it. I perform well under pressure it’s like more the stress, better my performance. I can simply say I embrace it and use it to give my best. Also thinking more about my input in the race and my strategy for it, instead of worrying about the results helps a lot. Apart from that I listen to music and talk to people around me.
How would describe yourself as a cyclist?
Extremely calm and super focused on my goal. I think me as a cyclist is the same as me a person.
What would you say are the essential mental characteristics required for elite-level cycling?
Honestly, I have never thought about it nor have I ever read about it but I would like to believe that whatever those characteristics are I have them.
Do you have any stats on the ride?
Yes. I use cycling GPS computer which shows me my speed, rpm, heart rate, etc.
What is your daily routine (on and off the bike) like?
My day begins with training. I wake up at around 4- 4:30 am and I am on the road by 5:30 max. After I am back from training I rush to my college (Guru Nanak Khalsa Autonomous College, Matunga). After I get back from college I study and rest for a while and then head to the gym. By the time I am back from the gym its almost 7- 7:30 pm and I am dead tired. Then I have dinner study for a while or watch something on TV and then go to sleep by 10:30 pm maximum.
What has cycling taught you that carries over into the other areas of your life?
The first and the most important thing that cycling has taught me is to digest failure, give a big broad smile and move on with it. Apart from that discipline, patience, persistence, commitment, taking responsibility for my actions, staying calm, never say die attitude and so many other things are taught to me by cycling. My entire personality is all about what I have learned from it. Another one thing that I would like to point out is, it has taught me the importance and difference the right kind of perspective can make. It has given me life lessons and I know that my every experience as a cyclist will be useful for me in any aspect of my life.
What makes, in your opinion, a champion?
Three D’s Dedication, Determination and Discipline. I think it’s very important to be stubborn, no matter what I am going to do what I want to do and no one can stop me or change my mind about it. Downright selfish for your dreams (good kind of selfish). And the most important thing, believe in yourself and only yourself. If you think that you are a champion then you already are a champion.
Finally, if you could cycle anywhere in the world where would it be?
Honestly, I have never really thought about it but I would like to go and train in Belgium as it is considered as Mecca of Cycling.
A movie that you watched more than 10 times?
If you could cycle with anyone/celebrity who would it be?
Your favourite TV show?
3 things you can’t live without
Music, Seafood and Something to do. I can’t sit quietly without anything to do for too long.