Image Credits: @naman
Through every challenge of his childhood and career, Punjab’s Naman Kapil has found peace and solace in cycling through his faith.
Over the years, we have seen a new wave of young male Indian cycling talent emerging from various corners of the country and grabbing headlines along the road. 20-year-old Naman Kapil is such a burgeoning talent, sticking out from the crowd.
If you’re wondering what would drive a 20-year-old to push his physical limits on a bike for four or five hours a day in a cold morning in Punjab, and then spend the rest of his time preparing for tomorrow’s slog, all for little or no money, fame or recognition, this is good a place as any to start asking questions.
Naman Kapil turned heads on the tracks over the years. On the boards, the Patiala native grabbed the headlines this year when he bagged two gold medals at the Khelo India Youth Games.
At what age did you start cycling?
I started cycling at the age of 12 years.
When did you say: yes, I will dedicate myself to cycling? What fuelled you, any inspiration, person behind the push?
I can’t remember where it came from but I think when I had won my first international medal in 2017. It was the point when I decided to dedicate myself completely towards cycling. Over time though that shifted, and it became a lifestyle and I got that cycling bug – and that's why I am blooming here. For me, cycling is more than a sport – changed me from that shy young boy into the confident person that I became. It wasn’t planned, it just happened, and I don’t think I really realised quite the impact it made until much later on. It sort of opened that way for me I suppose.
Do you have a favourite cyclist that you like to watch and get inspired by?
My favourite cyclist is Ashton Lambie from the USA. He overcame tremendous obstacles to forge his path to reach the pinnacle of cycling is a sight to behold. Lambie’s story is even more impressive given his unorthodox background in cycling as he was a gravel riding extraordinaire. He has broken the Individual Pursuit World Record three times in just over a year.
I am sure there are times during your training that you aren't achieving the results that you want. What do you do to lift your spirits during such times?
To be honest, one thing I know about myself is that if I'm not good at something, I will work. I will work to get better. As I believe, the triumph did not come without pain.
And yes, to achieve the targeted results, my coach and friends are always there for me.
My success is a result of my discipline and believing in my coach. My coach has been such an inspiration to me. He has motivated me to do well. He has believed in me since Day 1.
What motivates you in your daily training?
Cycling is hard and just like every other sport, so many more good riders, so you are always racing someone. You are always being pushed on. I think that’s the biggest challenge. Apart from that, goals are a wonderful thing. I set small ones that inspire me daily to become a better version of myself. Training has become important in my daily routine and it always keeps me fit to achieve my goals.
So, what has been your biggest challenge or set back while cycling?
My story has come with great struggle, as this sport has not come easy for me. Overcoming injuries is always tough on any athlete, and it is the same for me as well. In 2017, I was selected to represent the Indian team and was preparing for my international competition but four days before the competition, I got my right ankle twisted. It was a very critical condition at that time, but I managed to ride and won a medal for India.
How good are you at keeping a diet? Are you a foodie?
I live a pretty healthy lifestyle and try to maintain a mindful diet as well. It is important to maintain a healthy diet for the perfect mind and body. No, I’m not a foodie.
At this point in your cycling life, what has been the most memorable moment, or moments?
The most memorable moment in cycling has been when I won my first international medal at the junior level in 2017.
Some say you should never park a bike/cycle outside. True?
Yes, it is true, because racing bikes are very costly.
If you could cycle with anyone/celebrity who would it be?
There is only one man out there who can pedal through roads, count to infinity. His name is Sylvester Stallone. The living epitome of self-motivation, perseverance and inspiration.
Which are your short and medium-term objectives as a cyclist?
I don't know, I just hope to keep improving, I am under no illusions about what I have to do to get up there. At the moment I have a long way to go, but I'm steadily getting there. And with the pandemic, the way we’ve gone about it is that this year is all about a learning experience and about progress really. However, in the longer run, my main objective is to become an Asian Champion and to hopefully qualify for the Olympics.
Tell us something that we wouldn’t know about you?
Before starting cycling, I was a professional swimmer, I like to listen to music and travel.