With international medals boosting his confidence, Jammu and Kashmir cyclist Bilal Ahmad Dar dreams of representing the country in the Olympics one day.
Hailing from Kawoosa village in Budgam district, the18-year-old Dar is the first cyclist from Jammu and Kashmir to represent thecountry. His family cultivates fruits and vegetables and he was spotted duringa talent hunt in Srinagar.
Dar won two medals — a silver in the 3km individual pursuitand a bronze in the 4km team pursuit — at the Asian Junior Championships heldin Jakarata earlier this year.
"I was selected through trials in Jammu and Kashmir. Iwas the first among all the athletes," Dar told PTI on Tuesday.
Cycling is not very popular in the Valley but his father andfellow villagers inspired Dar to take up the sport.
"My father used to ride a cycle and then there were alot of people in my village cycling around that's how I got the inspiration toride," he said.
Dar was today felicitated by the Cycling Federation of India(CFI) along with the other Indian medallist of the Asian Junior CyclingChampionship.
In 2017, Dar had become the first cyclist in India to winfour gold medals at the National School Games which promptly earned him praisefrom former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and cricketer VVSLaxman on social media.
The teenager has been training in Delhi for the past fouryears where he has access to world class equipment and training. He hasrepresented India in several tournaments at the junior level.
"I have participated in the Asian Cup and then AsianChampionship. My aim now is to represent India in the Olympics," he said.
Seeing the terrific performance by the junior cyclists inthe recent events, SAI has agreed to include them in their developmentprogramme for the Target Olympic Podium Scheme.
"SAI has principally agreed to include four of the junior cyclists in the development scheme of TOPS. There is a meeting on May 29, we have our fingers crossed," said CFI Secretary General Onkar Singh. "These kids have proved themselves, they have the potential. We just want the best for them," he added. PTI