C. Vijaykumar, a promising biker gears up for the UAM championships at Dubai, writes A. JOSEPH ANTONY
Way ahead in the MRF National Motorcross Photo: Mohd Yousuf
IN THE third leg of the MRF National motocross at the Gymkhana grounds, C. Vijay Kumar of Team TVS was way above the competition. At times, Yogesh Barguje would close in but could never quite catch up with the frontrunner. Not simply was Vijay adjudged best rider of the day as he cleared the `table tops' with ease and sorted out the triple jumps with the finesse of a champion.
In doing so, he had won the admiration of Shyam Kothari, a former champ himself. "One didn't see the best of Vijay on Sunday," he said, even as a good turnout of fans gasped in wonder at the Bangalore biker's feats. "His pumped forearms did not give him the flexibility he needed with clutch release and accelerator. His starts were very good but he couldn't quite pull away as he should have," the Pune past master said.
Where Vijay gained ground was on the sweeps, as he swerved his bike just enough to take treacherous U turns. Nor did he fly too high, since he would lose time in the air. (The lesser bikers take those spectacular leaps but lose out in the long run). Equally adept was he on the flat tracks.
Passion for the sport began when he was 13
"Mentally, he's quite strong too and does not buckle under pressure. A setback is swiftly forgotten, with the focus shifting to the race ahead," says Kothari. In Vijay's scheme of things, there's no place for complacence. An indication of his resolve was evident in not wanting to rest on his laurels thus far but in going back to practise harder. "He's in the leading five of Asia now, but should make it to the top two next year," he predicts.
Vijay's love affair with this highly adventurous and demanding sport began when he was 13 years of age. He would gape at stunts performed by bikers on TV and sneak out on his father's motorcycle whenever he could. Three years ago, he began riding on the dirt tracks in and around Bangalore. He would take a spin around the arena now and then by borrowing bikes from friends at the cost of his computer classes.
After his brother taught him the skills, he took to the sport like a fish to water. The results began to show soon enough. With backup from his parents, he would finish in the top three of every race he entered, until they gave him an ultimatum to scale the peak or go back to computers.
Vijay approached Team TVS, which was conducting a training school in 2001. His talent was obvious and they signed him up. Very obvious to them were his focus, discipline and determination. In a setup as professional as TVS, which has an international quality racing track at its Hosur plant, he was quick on the uptake, when it came to technique and style. Thanks to this exposure, he had access to the expertise of past greats and even foreign coaches.
A training stint in Italy has equipped him even better, as he trains his sights on his next target the UAM championships in Dubai.
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