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'West Bengal government does not even know me,' alleges track cyclist Triyasha Paul

Track cyclist Triyasha Paul, a national record holder, won gold medals in successive National Games. Despite her achievements, her home state, West Bengal, refused to support her.

West Bengal government does not even know me, alleges track cyclist Triyasha Paul

Track cyclist Triyasha Paul with her coach Chintamani Deshmukh (left) and CFI official Maninder Pal Singh (right). (Photo credit: Special Arrangement) 


Sudipta Biswas

Updated: 10 Nov 2023 1:23 PM GMT

Young track cyclist Triyasha Paul has put up a magnificent show at the just concluded National Games, held in Goa.

She won a gold medal in the time trial (500m), silver in 200m, and bronze in the Carrington event (six laps 250m) at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Sports Complex while representing Delhi, which hosted the track cycling events of the National Games as it has India's only indoor track.

But last year, at the 36th National Games in Ahmedabad, the 21-year-old put up an even better show, winning two gold and a silver medal while representing West Bengal.

Triyasha, who hails from Madanpur, a mofussil town situated in Nadia district, some 74km from Kolkata, is happy with her performance, but she got furious for being forced to change her lineage to another state due to a lack of support from her home state, West Bengal.

When asked about it, an angry Triyasha alleged, "My state, West Bengal, does not support me."

"I have won 15 international medals, I also achieved a national record in the time trial event at the U18 level in 2019 in Hyderabad. Still, the West Bengal government has never provided me with any support; they do not even know who I am and what sports I play," she alleged.

Triyasha Paul posing with her National Games medals.

But at the 2022 National Games in Ahmedabad, Triyasha clinched two gold medals of the state's total 13 gold. Yet, she has not even received a single word of appreciation.

Triyasha, who has been training at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Sports Complex since 2016, also emphasised the reason why Maharashtra is such a dominant force in the National Games, and West Bengal, despite being such a populous state, is on a slippery slope, failing to improve its performance.

"Look at the athletes from Maharashtra. They have been financially rewarded for their performances. They received Rs 10 lakh each for the gold medals they won. As the West Bengal government is so ignorant about me, I have changed my lineage to Delhi just before the National Games," said Triyasha.

To put it into context, Maharashtra topped the medal tally with 228 medals, including 80 gold. West Bengal, in contrast, finished at the 18th spot with a mere 56 medals, including seven gold.

It is not that she has not approached the West Bengal government for any kind of help. But her pleas fell on deaf ears.

"I had pleaded for help because the cycle that I use is so costly. Each cycle costs around Rs 10 lakh. The state sports ministry did not even pick up our calls. My brother, Akash, tried to reach out to the ministry but our effort went in vain," alleged Triyasha.

"The main challenge is changing the equipment like buying wheels, which cost around Rs 3 lakh each, chain plates, tires and tubes. I need to change these after every three months. I use two cycles - one for track and another for road cycling that I use for relaxing my muscles. A road cycle costs around Rs 1.5 lakh," she narrated.

Triyasha, however, is now relieved that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) takes care of her every need - from equipment to nutrition to physical training. "Being an SAI athlete, the government looks after all my needs."

From athletics to track cycling

Triyasha left West Bengal at a young age. But track cycling did not happen naturally to her.

Despite coming from a middle-class family, her penchant for sports became evident early. On her father Tridib Kumar Paul's command, she started training to become an athlete, following the trend of the Nadia district, which has produced renowned athletes like Soma Biswas, an Asian Games silver medallist, in the past.

"Since my childhood, I was so passionate about sports. I used to play football and I have seen the benefits of playing sports. Even though we are not a well-off family, I always wanted to make my daughter an athlete," stated Tridib, a garage mechanic.

Triyasha used to train under her father's guidance at the Netaji Sangha Club in Madanpur. But when she was 15, she switched to cycling.

"I used to do running. Jibesh Ghosh, who also competed in the National Games, one day asked me if I would be interested in cycling," revealed Triyasha.

"In December 2016, there was a trial in Kolkata. I was selected by Bani Ghosh, a national medallist, for my fitness level. She brought me to Delhi, where another trial was organised. I came second in cycling and got selected by SAI," she added.

Since she moved to the Delhi SAI centre, Triyasha has been training under coach Chintamani Deshmukh.

Switching to a new sport was not a big struggle for Triyasha since she hailed from a family of sportspersons. But she is a pathbreaker as her father, Tridib, and grandfather, Madhusudan, were footballers. Her grandfather, a multiple-time medallist, was even employed in the Railways on sports quota.

'Willing to represent West Bengal again'

Even though her career is on the right track, Triyasha, who also competed at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games last year, misses her family in Madanpur. "I will go home in December after a long pause. Sometimes, I stay away from my family for one and a half years. Initially, I used to feel lonely. But after staying at the facility for six years, I became familiar with the environment in Delhi."

She is still willing to change her lineage back to West Bengal. But she is forthright about the financial aid that she receives from the Delhi government.

"The Delhi government has rewarded me financially profusely for my performance at the National Games. They also assured me of monetary help for my future achievements in domestic events and participation in international events. I am willing to represent West Bengal again as it is my birthplace, but I will do so only if they help me," said Triyasha, who has been employed in the Eastern Railways since 2021 as a Junior Typist.

For Triyasha, the next destination is Ranchi, where she will participate in the 52nd Junior National Track Cycling Championships in November-December before the tougher test of the Asian Championships, scheduled at her base camp in Delhi in February.

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