David Beckham Elkatohchoongo and Esow Alban alongside the coaches and technicians of the Indian contingent for the 2022 UCI Track Cycling World Championships. (Express Photo) If only it was as easy as Mamik Singh screaming ‘Sanju, change the gear!’ to Aamir Khan , as it happened in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar 30 years ago.
India’s Keirin cyclist David Beckham Elkatohchoongo recalls his nasty accident in the lockdown winter of February 2021. When a floor clip came undone, David’s cycle wedged into a gap on the track and bounced, upturning him, while a piece of wood pierced deep into his spine when he effected an unwarranted acceleration in practice. “40 stitches. Unbearable pain. Back surgery,” he says, ahead of heading out to Paris for the World Championships in cycling.
40 stitches and lots of time, six months to be precise, to reflect and take in what senior elite cycling demanded – a steady tactical head to temper the mindless love for speed. The damage to the back also left his left leg severely weakened. “The leg wasn’t feeling strong, but I couldn’t do much on the leg press,” he rues, of the pre-season strength loading he couldn’t pull off.
The injury looked gruesome, and had come after he had himself felt cagey to accelerate. “I usually never get nervous, and am very focused. I just tell myself I’ve done this before, competed before,” he says, though 2022 has been about being thrown into the deep waters and negotiating the treacherous transition to seniors.