Inspiring Stories


HCL Cyclothon - Noida 2024

10 Oct, 2023

The Crossover Champion

Harshveer Singh Sekhon’s shift from Roller Skating to Cycling is both rare, and remarkable

The unpredictability of life occupies an entire chapter in Harshveer Singh Sekhon’s Success Playbook. He ought to know. Few would have predicted his big switch from roller skating to cycling.The fact that Harshveer is also one of the very few (if not the only) Indian athletes who have represented India at the Asian Gamesin both the disciplines, reminds us that life isn’t just unpredictable but magical, too. 

The journey as a competitive cyclist began in 2019. All Harshveer wanted to dowas help his University cycling team perform well. It was his coach Gurbaj Singh who motivated him to make the jump from eight wheels (skating) to two wheels (cycling).

For a 21-year-old Harshveer, it was a relatively easy crossover. The young athlete drew from his vast experience of combining strength, speed and endurance in rolling skating to eat up distances voraciously in cycling, announcing the arrival of his new avatar in style.

The champion captures the switch fondly : “It was not tough to get to top in cycling. I did not feel much difference since nearly the same set of muscles – hamstrings or quads – is needed for roller skating andcycling. So, instead of taking the two or three years cyclists needs to make it to the Indian team, I was able to do that in just a few months.”

Harshveer has been notching up wins with similar velocity ever since.

In September 2019, he joined Punam Chand, Naman Kapil and Anil Manglaw to win the 4km Team Pursuit silver medal, conceding only a 0.33-second advantage to Malaysia in the final of the Track Asia Cup competition.

That medal would have assuaged some of the hurt he felt after disappointingly not finishing the 20km Speed Skating race in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. “There have been times when I felt low. I have wanted to quit when I have lost back to back events. Such defeats bring pressure. But my younger sister Jasmeek Kaur Sekhon, who is now a junior India cyclist, keeps me motivated. I want to set her a good example”, he says.

Today, Harshveer Singh Sekhon is a state and national level champion, multiple times over. Along with all the glory, has come glorious lessons. “Cycling has taught me patience and acceptance. I dare say my thinking has changed vastly”, he admits.

For Harshveer, one way of staying inspired is to trust the process. As his father says, it is tough to stay hungry if one keeps winning all the time. If one doesn’t learn to lose, one can’t learn to win.“There are times where I am doing well but end up on the losing side. There are diametrically opposite times, too, when I finish ahead despite knowing I could have done better”, shares the dynamic young pedalist.

Harshveer also realizes that timing plays a big role in success. Sometimes, one just can’t rush it – the right moment must happen on its own. He cites one of his greatest victories in India as an example.

It was the 119km Mass Start race in the National Games in Gandhinagar in 2022.A  breakaway group of 7 was in the lead, just one km from the Finish Line. The seasoned Arvind Panwar and Naveen John, who have dominated the distance road races in the past few years, were in the pack too. Reminisces the champion, “If I made a dash at the time, I may have been drained of all energy when others counterattacked. I waited till 50m from the finish to sprint away.” The smile on Harshveer’s face rolls the months back, giving us a LIVE recap of that thrilling day.

The champ is conscious – and grateful – for the fame and support the sport has given him, and is determined to return the gesture. Indeed, he wants to do more. He wants to re-engineer the very mindset that governs the discipline, and create more champions. “I want to do well in sport and set an example that we can keep get better every day”, are Harshveer’s exact words.

The next target is already set. Making the nation proud at the Asian Games in Hangzhou later this year is right on top of Harshveer’s To-Do list. He has cranked up his training regimen, and is straining every sinew to get on the national squad. If he succeeds, it will be a rare, if not unique, accomplishment for this ex-skater. Can he? Eight wheels or two, the go-getter gets our vote.