Jun 15, 2017

Indian Rider to be Youngest to Rumble in the Sri Lankan Jungle

Seventeen-year-old Akshit Gaur is about to become the youngest rider and only Indian to compete in Rumble in the Jungle, a 4-day mountain bike stage race in Sri Lanka taking place from June 11-18, 2017.


Ashish Sood

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How often does it happen that the youngest rider in an international mountain biking stage race is an Indian teenager? Almost never. But times, they are a-changing. About a week ago, Akshit Gaur, a 17-year-old rider from the North Indian mountain town of Shimla, was anxiously waiting for his Class 12 results (in which he did really well). In a week from now, he’ll be competing in an international MTB race.

Akshit will become the youngest rider to start Sri Lanka’s ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ ( a cross-country, 300km race with over 7000m of ascent through off-road sections, hills and tea gardens of Sri Lanka. This year’s event includes pros like Cory Wallace (former world rank 18, and 3-time Canadian National Champion, Winner of Hero MTB Himalaya in 2014) and Sonya Looney (World Champion, 4-time US National Champion, professional adventure athlete).

6th Hero MTB Shimla 2017. Akshit won the student’s category. Photo: HASTPA

There are a lot of things that make Akshit’s participation in the race a special occasion for all MTB enthusiasts in India. Akshit was spotted in one of the first school programs conducted by HASTPA with the support of Hero Cycles, where we started going to schools with the objective of picking prospective talent and providing them with a platform and the requisite infrastructure, equipment and training to further enhance their skills and develop them into world-class athletes. Akshit was spotted and enrolled in the Hero Action Team in March 2016, and his participation in Rumble in the Jungle represents hope – essential for people to believe there is a future for cycling in India; and a future in being an athlete in India.

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Akshit has been a stellar performer. In 2016 he won the student category of the Hero MTB Shimla by far and was second across all age groups. He even beat the national U19 Champion by quite a margin. He came back and won the Hero MTB Shimla in 2017 as well. Won MTB Nainital in the Students category (3rd Overall). He has character, skills and the ability to come back under pressure. which will take him a long way. If he manages to secure a top 10 position in this race, his confidence will be boosted for many miles to come and raise the sport’s awareness for much-needed corporate sponsors in India.

“Akshit is the manifestation of our dream. Hero HASTPA School programs were started in 2014 with the aim to find top talent and provide them with a platform to improve their skills. With the support of Hero Cycles, we have been able to cover more than 100 schools, reaching over 15,000 students since the launch of the program. The idea is to nurture a future Olympian in the sport from India. A lesser known sport like mountain biking needs a lot of corporate backing, and Hero Cycles has shown the way”, said Mohit Sood, President of HASTPA.