Trials or studies: Girl who cycled 1,200 km with father at crossroads

Rendered jobless due to the extended COVID-19 lockdown, the 15-year-old Jyoti Kumari was forced to ferry her father who was unable to walk properly after a surgery on a cycle

Jyoti Kumari, Cycling Federation of India, stranded migrants, migrant workers, coronavirus, COVID-19, Lockdown
The father and daughter duo started their journey from Gurgaon on May 10 after buying a cycle with whatever money they had and reached their village on May 16. Photo: PTI

Bihar school girl Jyoti Kumari, who cycled 1,200 km with her injured father from Gurugram to Darbhanga, will appear for Cycling Federation of India trials once the lockdown ends even though finishing matriculation is her primary aim.

“We will surely send for the trials after the lockdown is lifted. She was enrolled into class nine yesterday. At the moment, we want her to complete her matriculation,” her father Mohan Paswan told PTI from Sirhulli near Darbhanga.

Rendered jobless and penniless because of the extended COVID-19 lockdown, the 15-year-old was forced to ferry her father who was unable to walk properly after a surgery to his left knee following an accident.

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Impressed with the doggedness with which Jyoti pedalled her way for more than 1,200-kilometres spanning over a week, carrying her ailing father, the Cycling Federation of India (CFI) has invited Kumari to appear for a trial next month, in what could be a life-changing opportunity.

“Yes we received the call from New Delhi (Cycling Federation of India). We said she needs rest now may be after two-three months we will see,” Paswan, who fractured his leg in an accident while driving his auto-rickshaw in January, said.

CFI Chairman Onkar Singh recently told PTI that if Jyoti passed the trial, she will be selected as a trainee at the state-of-the-art National Cycling Academy at the IGI Stadium complex here.

The father and daughter duo started their journey from Gurugram on May 10 after buying a cycle with whatever money they had and reached their village on May 16.

Related news: Federation calls for trial 15-year-old girl who took father on cycle for 1200 km

“We saw many of the fellow migrant workers walking home. But I could barely walk so we bought a second-hand bicycle and started our journey on May 7,” Paswan recalled.

In her village Jyoti had earlier regulary cycled 5 kms to reach to her school.

“Jyoti cycled for long hours even during the night and we managed to hitch rides on trucks and tractors for stretches across Uttar Pradesh,” he said.

The District Magistrate of Darbhanga has also reached out to her and enrolled her in class nine at the Pindaruch High School.

She has also been given a brand new bicycle, school uniform and shoes for her higher education.

LJP offers to sponsor Jyoti’s education 

Meanwhile, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has offered to sponsor education for Jyoti.

LJP president Chirag Paswan on Sunday (May 24) said that he has been speaking to the teenager and her family for days and has urged her to pursue education of her choice wherever in the country she wants.

“I will sponsor her education in any stream which she thinks is best for her,” he said.

Offers of help have poured in for Jyoti after she was forced to pedal the huge distance with her father sitting on pillion to reach home during the lockdown.

Her toughness and endurance became one of the stories that have defined the difficulties migrants have faced during the coronavirus-triggered due to COVID-19.

BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that he was moved by her courage and urged Sports minister Kiren Rijiju to give her full support to groom her as a cyclist if she so chooses.

Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan also made a similar request to Rijiju, and said Jyoti should be given proper training and scholarship.

The sports minister has assured that he will ask officials concerned to report to him after conducting her trials.

If she has potential, she will be selected as a trainee at the National Cycling Academy in the IGI Stadium complex in New Delhi, he had tweeted.

Ivanka Trump praises Jyoti on Twitter

On Friday (May 22), Jyoti caught the eye of US President Donald Trump’s daughter and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump, who praised the 15-year-old for her “beautiful feat of endurance and love.”

Ivanka took to Twitter to highlight the story of the Indian girl, a class eight student, whose journey has become an extensive talking point even on social media where there has been talk about whether she has it in her to pursue cycling as a career.

“15 yr old Jyoti Kumari, carried her wounded father to their home village on the back of her bicycle covering +1,200 km over 7 days. This beautiful feat of endurance & love has captured the imagination of the Indian people and the cycling federation!” Ivanka said in a tweet.

Ivanka, who is advisor to President Trump on job creation, has visited India twice, most recently in February this year along with her father. In 2017, she led the US delegation at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India.

(With inputs from agencies)

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