Days after a story of an immigrant’s daughter cycling for 1,200 km from Gurugram to Bihar over eight days with her ailing father went viral, the Cycling Federation of India (CFI) has invited her for a trial.
The 15-year-old Jyoti Kumari was with her father in Gurugram, Haryana when a nation-wide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 was announced by the Indian government.
Her father, Mohan Paswan, a daily-wage labourer, was soon out of ways to earn a living. “We were stuck due to the lockdown. We ran out of money as well. And the landlord too was very demanding about the rent. He wanted us to pay him, but we didn't earn anything this month,” he told BBC India in an interview.
Fearing that they would be soon evicted, Paswan’s daughter decided to take matters into her own hands.
With her father - an autorickshaw driver - being left unable to work after a road accident, Jyoti put him on the back of her bike and began to pedal her way back home in Darbhanga in Bihar.
“If we were to stay back, we wouldn’t have had the money for food, so I asked him to get on the cycle so that we could go back home. He was reluctant at the beginning, but eventually, he agreed,” Jyoti Kumari said.
The determined daughter covered the distance in eight days. But the journey back home wasn’t an easy one either. “We went hungry for two days, but then we were lucky that we could find a few people who helped us with food during travel,” she said.
Taking note of the development, the CFI reached out to the youngster assuring that if she passed the trial, she will be inducted as a trainee at the National Cycling Academy in New Delhi.
“We spoke to the girl this morning and we have told her that she will be called to Delhi next month as soon as the lockdown is lifted. All the expenses of her travel, lodging and others will be borne by us,” the CFI Chairman Onkar Singh told the Press Trust of India.
“If she needs to accompany somebody from home, we will also allow that. We will see in consultation with our Bihar state unit on how she can be brought to Delhi for a trial,” he added.
Reason behind the invitation
The chairman also clarified that this was a genuine attempt to scout talented youngsters in the country and hone them into future athletes.
“She must have something in her. I think cycling down more than 1,200 km is not a mean job. She must be having the strength and physical endurance. We want to test it,” he explained.
“We will make her sit on the computerised cycle we have at the academy and see if she satisfies the seven or eight parameters to get selected. After that, she can be among the trainees and she will not have to spend anything,” he assured.