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Teen cyclist’s resilience propels her to victory

Niharika’s accomplishment surpassed the record set seven years prior by Leela Patil, highlighting her exceptional cycling prowess at such a young age.

CyclistVIJAYAWADA: In a triumphant display of tenacity, 17-year-old Marapareddy Niharika Reddy, a proud Telugu girl, etched her name in the records of Indian cycling by clinching the top position in the overall female category at the 10th edition of the Deccan Cliffhanger (DC) on November 25.

The ultra-cycle solo race, covering a formidable 643 km from Pune to Goa with a challenging elevation gain of 5,907 metres witnessed Niharika completing the gruelling course in an impressive 31 hours and 51 minutes, within the cutoff time of 34 hours.

This exceptional feat not only secured her the title of the fastest Indian female in the Deccan Cliffhangers but also earned her the coveted qualification for the ‘Race Across America’ (RAAM), a prestigious 3,000-mile non-stop cycling race on the international stage. Niharika’s accomplishment surpassed the record set seven years prior by Leela Patil, highlighting her exceptional cycling prowess at such a young age. Remarkably, she participated in the DC at the age of 17, a year younger than the usual minimum age for participants.

Her parents, Bhaskar Reddy a businessman and Vani a homemaker, hail from Thimmampeta village in Anantapur district, and she was born and brought up in the city of Mumbai where the family settled. Her journey into cycling began as a means of recovery from a leg fracture at the age of 14. Her passion quickly evolved into a regular part of her life, leading to groundbreaking achievements.

At the age of 15, she completed a challenging 650 km endurance race from Navi Mumbai to Hyderabad in just three days, earning recognition from the Indian Book of Records as the youngest teen to achieve this remarkable feat.

Under the guidance of her coach Kabir Rachure, a seasoned cyclist with notable achievements in India and RAAM, Niharika’s skills flourished. In November 2022, she along with her uncle Sudhakar Reddy, achieved the challenging Deccan Cliffhanger in 31 hours and 45 minutes, within the cutoff time of 32 hours, in a team of two categories. They covered 642 km from Pune to Goa with an elevation of 5902 metres.

Their collective accomplishments continued with a 600-kilometre ride in the Great Himalayan Ultra race in Ladakh in August 2023, with an elevation of 1,000 metres and finishing outside the cutoff time, demonstrating their resilience in the face of extreme challenges. Niharika’s father, Bhaskar Reddy, expressed pride in her journey, emphasising her resilience and passion for cycling. Coach Kabir Rachure lauded young athletes like her for propelling the sport to new heights.

Speaking about her journey, Niharika credited her parents and support crew, including Someshwar (nutritionist), Ashutosh (bike technician), Shridhar (Leapfrog vehicle driver), Vijay Patil (follow car driver) and Chan (handoffs), acknowledging their unwavering support.

Kolisetty Venkata Ganesh Babu, Core Committee member of Amaravathi Runners, an NGO in Vijayawada, commended Niharika as a Telugu sensation from Mumbai, showcasing the potential in young athletes and cyclists nationwide.

 

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