Wonder on Wheels Neel Yadav

Neel Yadav, SO Bharat Athlete from Haryana cycles 6 days a week, for approx. 6 and a half hours daily, matching with the stamina of 40 mainstream cyclists. The early morning winter fog, a holiday, family guests, no one can break this routine. He wakes up at 3 AM to be at the stadium by 4AM. It is a part of him which gives him purpose, confidence and happiness and also fetches him the envy and admiration of others. His routine is fixed. He sleeps early at night and is regular with his warm up exercises and stretches.

It is hard to believe that Neel, who is 12 years now, was placed in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for two months following pre mature- birth in August 2005, due to an infection, with no/very low chances of survival. Neel’s father is an Income Tax officer and his mother a Govt college lecturer. Neel is a student of the Heritage School Gurgaon Haryana. His parents approached quite a few doctors to understand his condition, as his milestones were delayed but he seemed so much like everyone else. By the time he was 5-6 yrs it was established that he had a learning Disability. With his father being a cycling enthusiast, watching him Neel may have got interested in the sport. Many a times he would be missing from his house only to be caught later on the cycle. Neel drew attention of his parents to his potential & budding skills. His father continued to support him honing his cycling skills as much as could personally

Early last year (2017) Neel and his parents met Mr Virender Kumar, Area Director SO Bharat Haryana and got to know about Special Olympics. His parents saw an opportunity for their son to achieve and grow. He received professional guidance from SO Bharat for which he travelled to Jharkhand for a week. On his return Neel started to practise regularly with the SO Bharat Athletes

He qualified to participate at the Special Olympics Haryana State Championship in March 2017 where he won a Gold Medal in 2 km TT (Time Trials). His abilities and diligence put him on a fast track and his next participation in October 2017 made him compete in the Haryana State Road Cycling Championship organized by the Haryana State Cycling Federation. Competing in a Mainstream competition of Under 14 (U-14), he positioned third in the 10km TT . The National Road Cycling Championship 2017-18 conducted by the Cycling Federation of India was next, in the same month and year, where he clocked 18.5 minutes doing the 10 km TT. In January 2018 he continued to cycle through the Haryana State track Cycling Championship coming first, and the National Track Cycling Championship doing 500m TT in 42 Seconds. The list of achievements gets exhaustive as Neel steps up his skills each time. In January 2018 he won a Gold in 5KM TT and Silver in 10KM TT at the Special Olympics Bharat- National Cycling Championship held in Ranchi Jharkhand. Although he is too young, Neel shows a strong potential to face global competition 

Since 2017 Neel has been practising regularly at the Indoor Cycling Velodrome in the Indira Gandhi Stadium Delhi (As on November 2017, the Velodrome will be converted into an international cycling academy, thus becoming the Union Cycliste Internationale’s (UCI) first satellite training centre of the sport in developing countries). Mr Shrinu Kumar, his Coach at the Velodrome, recognised the Champion in him placing him for practises with the top cyclists of India. Neel practises approx. 100km of cycling daily

Mr Pawan Kumar, Neel’s father, “Where he fell short in Academics he has more than covered in sports.  I am proud of his abilities, his determination and commitment. All his co-cyclists just love him. Except for a low IQ he has everything that a human being can be virtuous of. Special Olympics showed us the way. Everything else came later”