Agency New Delhi: With international medals boosting his confidence, Jammu and Kashmir cyclist Bilal Ahmad Dar dreams of representing the country in the Olympics one day. Hailing from Kawoosa village in Budgam district, the 18-year-old Dar is the first cyclist from Jammu and Kashmir to represent the country. His family cultivates fruits and vegetables and he was spotted during a talent hunt in Srinagar. Dar won two medals — a silver in the 3km individual pursuit and a bronze in the 4km team pursuit — at the Asian Junior Championships held in Jakarata earlier this year. “I was selected through trials in Jammu and Kashmir. I was the first among all the athletes,” Dar told PTI on Tuesday. Cycling is not very popular in the Valley but his father and fellow villagers inspired Dar to take up the sport. “My father used to ride a cycle and then there were a lot of people in my village cycling around that’s how I got the inspiration to ride,” he said. Dar was today felicitated by the Cycling Federation of India (CFI) along with the other Indian medallist of the Asian Junior Cycling Championship. In 2017, Dar had become the first cyclist in India to win four gold medals at the National School Games which promptly earned him praise from former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and cricketer VVS Laxman on social media. The teenager has been training in Delhi for the past four years where he has access to world class equipment and training. He has represented India in several tournaments at the junior level. “I have participated in the Asian Cup and then Asian Championship. My aim now is to represent India in the Olympics,” he said. Seeing the terrific performance by the junior cyclists in the recent events, SAI has agreed to include them in their development programme for the Target Olympic Podium Scheme. “SAI has principally agreed to include four of the junior cyclists in the development scheme of TOPS. There is a meeting on May 29, we have our fingers crossed,” said CFI Secretary General Onkar Singh. “These kids have proved themselves, they have the potential. We just want the best for them,” he added.
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