Inspiring Stories


HCL Cyclothon - Noida 2024

05 Oct, 2023

From the Field to the Track

The beauty of the bike drew out the champion in Anil Manglaw.

Busy working in the fields with his father, Anil Manglaw didn’t quite see it coming. All his eyes spotted was a sleek, thin-tyred beauty slicing the road. “Oh! This must really fly!” he thought instantly, a strange desire flooding his senses. The object of his fascination was a road cycle. His first flame, his original crush, the chance encounter would eventually inspire Anil to burn his rivals, and crush it on the cycling track.

He credits the genesis of his remarkable relationship with the bike to his coach Jagdish Manglaw (unrelated to Anil) from his village in Fatehabad, Haryana. As it turns out, that beauty belonged to Jagdish, and he was happy to let Anil try it out. It was the first touch. The flame was ready to catch fire.

Jagdish also offered to train Anil, despite knowing very little about cycling himself. In fact, they learnt everything together. “He didn’t know much but he’d work hard to find out and teach me”, Anil recalls. The admiration and respect for his mentor is easy to spot. The multiple National Champion (across various discipline) adds without batting an eyelid, “Everything I am today is because of him.”

Amongst Jagdish’s many lessons was the importance of mental strength. Anil learnt it early in his career. In 2014, just before he was due to take part in the Haryana Cycling festival, Jagdish sat him down and made him visualise himself winning the race. The movie script, seeded deep in his psyche, unleashed its magic on the cycling track: Only 14 years of age, Anil won bronze in the seniors category.

“I didn’t know that this was a mind game too,” he says. “But it really is. I might be small in stature, but I can say that my spirit is huge. I never lose heart. I’ve never considered myself to be lesser to anyone.” The cyclist was mastering the secret tools of success quickly. There would be no looking back.

Having started off as a road cyclist, Anil shifted to track three years ago and has already filled up his cabinet. He was part of the Railways team that won silver in the 4 km Team Pursuit at the 2019 and 2021 National Track Championships. They went a step further last year finally bagging gold in the event at the Nationals held in Assam. In 2021, Anil broke Manjeet Singh’s seven year old National Record enroute gold in the 4 km Individual Pursuit. His record was broken by Vishavjeet Singh last year, as Anil Manglaw himself finished off the medal places for the first time in the event.

Much like the wild tracks that crisscross the great outdoors where Anil practises his craft, his own journey has been topsy turvy. “There’s been a lot of crests and troughs in my career. Having been part of the Indian team for the last three years I’ve seen myself grow, and my own performance improve too.”

As in the case of all true champions, Anil’s success is self-made. For the first six odd years, he was training on his own – without a coach, or support of any kind.

It’s only over the last few years that he has received formal training, instruction and support. Anil acknowledges that it can be a lonely climb to the top, especially for those starting out. Then there’s the risk factor. “Going out to cycle at high speeds just for training is often a dangerous act in itself. That, coupled with the lack of commercial viability, dissuades friends and family”, confesses the rising star.

For the daring souls who refuse to let that hold them back, Anil has a few pearls of advice. It all starts with a burning desire, according to him. “Young cyclists must believe in themselves. Now everyone has access to the Internet, so they can and should search for training methods, find ways to improve themselves. Coach Google will help everyone” he laughs.

He is grateful to cycling for everything he has received, and is keen to give backto the sport. “I used to work in the fields with my father. I never thought people would know my name, chant my name, would know my father because of me. Cycling has given me a lot of success. It has helped me visit so many countries, go abroad, and experience different cultures. For a village boy, these weren’t even dreams, and I owe cycling a huge debt for helping me achieve all this”, says Anil.

It is a debt he wants to pay by ensuring the next generation takes to the sport, and crushes it. “I want kids to look at cyclists like me and be inspired, even go on to do things I couldn’t. Nothing would make me happier,” the ace biker signs off.