Esow Alben: The cycling prodigy of India
Esow Alben. The 18 year old Track cyclist from the picturesque Andaman and Nicobar Islands, has captured the imagination of the entire nation. He became the World number one junior sprinter not long ago and brought a smile on our faces. Now, he is ready to take another step at his long shot dream which is Olympics .
Esow first created history on August 16, 2018 by winning India’s first Junior cycling World Cup silver medal in the men’s keirin event of the UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships held in Aigle, Switzerland. It was his first major feat on foreign soil. Esow was edged out only by 0.017 seconds by Czech Republic’s Jakub Stastny, who secured gold in the race.
The teenager has had a terrific run in the Asian Championships and victories in the 2018 Cottbuser Sprint Cup 2, GP Brno Track Cycling competitions and also earned the No.1 ranking in the Junior Sprint category which made him the first Indian to reach the top spot. Esow won gold medals in the individual and team event at the 2018 Asian Track Cycling Championships in Malaysia with a top-place finish in the Men’s junior sprint event afterward.
Then came the August of 2019, where Esow rewrote the cycling history of India in the Junior Cycling World Cup again, when Rojit Singh and Ronaldo Singh joined Esow to clinch a historic first ever international cycling gold medal for India. The trio won the men’s team sprint event and broke their own Asian record in the process. But there was no stopping for Esow in Junior WC, as he took over with his bronze medal in men’s individual Keirin and a silver in the men’s individual Sprint event. The 18 year old from Port Blair became the first Indian cyclist to win three medals at a single international event, a record that will not be broken in a hurry. India’s Sprint coach, RK Sharma was definitely proud of that feat. Thanks to the heroics of Esow, India finished sixth overall on the medals tally, making the country’s best ever finish at a world-cycling event.
Actually, sports is entrenched in Alben’s family. His father, Alban Didus, was also a cyclist and participated in inter-police meets. Esow’s mother, Lelly Alban, was a kabbadi player and had travelled to Chandigarh for the national championships in 1984. His father works as a head constable with the fire force. He is posted on the remote Teressa Island. His mother is a class IV officer at the Kadamtala Forest office on Middle Andaman Island. Both parents have encouraged and motivated Esow to pursue a career in sports ever since he was little. In fact, his mother sent him to the State Sports Council Netaji Stadium for training. He enrolled in rowing initially. However, he later switched on to cycling due to his low height.
Esow’s feats are lot more commendable considering his age. The Olympics is a long shot but it’s a perfect platform for the boy wonder to stun us again. At an age where most of us absolutely clueless about what we are doing in life, Esow has already achieved a lot. He has set himself on the course to create history and his journey has just begun.
Indian cyclists are truly on a roll this year and Esow is their flagbearer! We wish the champion all the very best for all his future tournaments.