Children his age spend hours on their PlayStation consoles playing motor racing games and trying hair-raising stunts. Nut nine-year-old Yuvraj Konde Deshmukh has seamlessly bridged the gap between the virtual world and reality by taking his love for motorbikes to a completely new level. Serious about bikes and racing, little Yuvraj proved his mettle by finishing on the podium in the American Motocross Association’s race held at Lake Sugar Tree Motorsports Park, Axton, Virginia. Battling alongside local kids who were well aware of the off-road circuit, Yuvraj in an impressive runfinished second in the 3.2 km track run over four laps, in the age 7-11 category.
“My friends don’t know that I ride motorbikes. They think I ride those battery operated toy bikes for fun. There is just one boy who knows what I actually do because he has seen me doing it,” says the affable boy with a wide grin.
Yuvraj, who still struggles to sit straight for more than minute, picking random stuff around him while occasionally rolling on the couch even as his parents cajole him in vain, undergoes a drastic transformation when he is on a racetrack.
“I first saw him at the MRF Super Cross national race and was stunned by his riding skills. He was a cut above the rest. The way he throttled, I knew this boy could make it big,” says eight-time national champion Rustom Patel.
It was under Patel that Yuvraj, who stays in Pune, learned the nuances of motocross racing at his I-Land Racing Academy in Wadala. “I requested his parents to send him to my academy. He is a quick learner and is not afraid to take risks.”
Rustom said that it was Yuvraj’s splendid show in the race held at Aamby Valley last year that turned things around. “He was competing in U-14 category and beat those kids. I requested our director Atul Ajmera to send him abroad and he made sure that every expense of our trip was looked after. We even bought a brand new six-gear 65 cc bike for him to ride there.”
While all Motorsport races involve a high degree of risks, motocross racing tests a rider’s skills to the maximum. The races are run over natural and man-made terrain courses with hills, jumps and turns. “He is not allowed to eat chocolates. He trains for about eight hours a day apart from fitness and stamina building sessions,” Rustom adds.
Having been a rider before, Yuvraj’s father Sandeep, who completed the three-member team, was naturally proud to see his son but it is the mother, who still gets jittery. “I am not scared anymore but a night before the race is always spent praying. Even our maids join me in praying. It is a ritual that I have to follow,” Yuvraj’s mother admits.
With a successful run in the US, the team are looking to now target races in the subcontinent but before that the student of Vibgyor High School will have to shun his biking gears for a while. “I am looking forward to meeting my friends and teachers. I got a one-month off. When they know that I have returned with a trophy, they will be quite proud.”