New Delhi: Commonwealth Games bronze medallist para-swimmer Prasanta Karmakar is all set to leave the pool for pedals as he will be seen setting the tracks on fire at the Hero Asian Cycling Championship in the national capital region on March 5.
The loss of swimming could be the gain for cycling as there is no age bar for para-cycling unlike in swimming where athletes beyond 33 cannot participate. And Karmakar is ready to cash in on the opportunity as the Haryana-lad is determined to recreate the magic as a para-cyclist during the road races at the Buddha International Circuit.
The 32-year-old`s never-say-die attitude has always helped him go that extra mile even after losing a part of his right hand in a road accident when he was only seven years old.
"I never shy away from a challenge. Although it`s the first time I am participating in a para-cycling event in my life, I am confident of making an impact in the sport," said Karmakar, who had won the first-ever medal in a paralympic event of the CWG and followed it up with silver and bronze medals in the Para Asian Games in Guangzhou (China) in 2010.
"Even swimming happened by chance in my life. I didn`t know then that I would do the country proud one day. Why should I not be optimistic about my chances in cycling?" said the Arjuna awardee.
Karmakar would be seen competing in the para-cycling segment of the Hero Asian Cycling Championship, in which cyclists from four countries will be participating, including India.
Karmakar has been practicing for the event in the lead up to the championship. The swimmer-turned-cyclist has currently made the Indira Gandhi Velodrome his home.
"I have been putting in at least 2 to 3 hours every day in the run up to this event and am enjoying the run completely," he added.
The Para-cycling event will be a prelude to the main championships, beginning from March 7 to 17 at the IG Sports Complex and BIC F1 track.
The fighter in Karmakar was hard to miss when he asserted, "I had lost my hand in a road accident but that did deter me from participating in a para-cycling event which will be on the road. So what if I don't have a part of my hand? I am fearless and will never give up."
The multi-task athlete is looking forward to his coaching stint as well.
"The Haryana government has cleared the decks for my job as an assistant swimming coach in the sports department. I hope to be engaged soon."
He (Major Dhyan Chand) is inspiration personified. He became synonymous with hockey. He became the parameter of hockey by which other player's calibre is measured.
Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal