Meet Nithila Das, an exceptional 13-year-old teenager from the lively city of Bangalore, India. Despite her young age, Nithila has already made a name for herself in the world of motorbiking as the fastest rider in India. She achieved an impressive fifth-place ranking in the highly competitive FIM Mini GP World Series India 2022. This special interview provides a chance to learn more about Nithila’s journey, her dreams, and the valuable lessons she’s gained as a young motorbike sensation. Her story shows that age doesn’t stop anyone from following their passions and achieving remarkable things.
Through this conversation, we’ll explore what motivates Nithila’s success and how she inspires other young people with her achievements.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you first got into the world of cycling and motorbiking?
Basically, I’d say I got into cycling. About myself, more than that is just cycling and biking and cycling all that I do. So how I got into cycling was like about four to five years ago, my dad actually introduced me and my brother, I have a younger brother, so he introduced us to cycling; but then I was a super lazy person and wasn’t interested in all that sports. I was like, okay, fine. That was my first impression. And then he went for a lot of races. He started getting a lot of medals and trophies. I’m looking at him, I’m like, he is getting I’m not getting. So I’m the elder one and I’m not getting trophies like him. So I’m like, okay, fine. At least for the trophy I’ll go cycle. So then I went for my first race in Mysore actually. So then in Mysore I went, I won first place. So I was like, okay, fine, this thing is nice. And the first place only, they are giving a trophy. Even though it was like small, it was still a trophy. And I was really happy about it. So I’m like, okay, fine, I’m not leaving cycling. I’ll anyways do it. And then, yeah, I used to somehow wake up in the morning and yeah, it was like that. So then I went from the past three years, I have been doing the MTB Nationals. Actually, I have done it as a wild card entry because my age was not enough for the Nationals participation. But last year I got the first year officially for participating in Nationals and I won the bronze medal for the MTB Nationals. So then now, this year also looking forward, recently the state, I guess, it was the state championship. I won double gold from past three years. I am going state double gold, district gold. It’s always like that. It’s going nice and then towards biking again, my dad introduced me into dirt biking. I wasn’t professional, but it was nice for experiencing something like that. So we had practice in dirt biking. Then we got a coach named Devankatesh, and then we started practicing motorsports. We started doing a few events, like few kids events. And then my Motorsports coach introduced me to another circuit racing coach, which is a road racing in bike. So then his name was Abhishek Vasudev. I went there. Road racing was like my first race. Again, I won first, I was like, okay, I’m happy, so this is also my thing. And then last year, by the end of the season of the TBS event, I came in the championship third. Then in the last race I came first. I was somewhere in twelfth position or something, and then I suddenly jump up. So that was what happened. And that’s the woman category. I’m the youngest rider. All are like 20-30, That’s the age group. I call them Didi or Aunty. So they literally come, they’ll say, oh, come on, you’re a kid, okay, you’re going to ride, like talking to a very small kid.
Can you share how your father, Nikhil Das introduced you to the world of cycling and motorbiking?
He was like a biker. He doesn’t do a lot of races. He used to go for rides a lot. He had this riding route. He had contact with a lot of coaches and everybody who are related. So most of them in biking are starting from cycling. So that was very common. Most of the bike racers and riders, they’re all doing cycling also because they both balance bikes and cycles, they balance with each other. So, my dad said we will start with cycling so that we get that balance of the bike. And then even my brother, he was very much interested in all of these bike and cycles. So, I told you as I was not at all interested, and then I just came in.
Sports in India is still many a times considered male dominant. So have you faced any aggressive behavior or bad behavior from boys around you?
Not exactly a bad behavior, but just race fights. During the race, people even kick each other down. It has happened. It was not during the race. I mean, if it’s a race, at least we can understand. They don’t want us to go ahead, so they just want to cut down a rider so that’s you think but then what happened is I went for qualifiers before the race. I’m taking a corner. A guy comes outside with the bike. We lean while taking a corner. Then he just kicks me down. I go crash. Things like that happen. Otherwise, nothing much.
There were recently many news around about inappropriate behaviour towards the athletes. So do you believe sports people do not get enough respect in the society by the government or the society itself?
I guess in the sports, which I’m into, I think I am having enough what I need. I have read all that news, but that’s a completely different sport. It depends on who the officials are and what is inappropriate. If there is something appropriate, then obviously they should change something. But in the sports I am into, I haven’t found anything like that. So I guess I’m out of that.
Is Indian government helping sports sports people financially?
Yeah! In cycling I have seen not much, but few kids like who are from small places, they can’t afford their own cycle. The government is providing them cycle for the races that too a nice race build cycle. So to all those the government helps and does a lot for them and even for opportunities they are moving ahead. So. I guess in that way, even the government helps. Now, for example, the Mini GP event, which happened last year, I had, I guess three crashes. I was going crazy. It was a small bike and I’m going full on all fast, so I crashed and then there was a high damage for the bike. And the sponsor, they actually helped us out with a lot of money because it’s very hard to recover from it. The bike only is like about a lakh rupees and then if we crash, two, three parts of the bike are gone, then it’s going to be hard to pay back all of that. So they help in that way. So sponsors are the main thing more than the government.
Do you believe more improvement is needed in Indian sports system?
I can see riders now. The amount of riders have increased. The time I started, when my brother started, no kids were there, no girls also. Now slowly, more people seem to be interested. Cricket, football, all those are really famous sports now in India and all around. I’d say, all those are really famous sports. You said you asked them, did you watch the World Cup? They all say, yeah, I watched it. They’ll know everything that happened in the whole match. So throughout the starting to the end, they know the match. So they have highlighted all those sports. So I would like saying that cycling, biking, all these sports can be highlighted because half of the people, they have no idea that cycling is a sport. So I go tell my friends, I got state gold medal in cycling. They’re like, oh, cycling, it was nice. I thought that is just like we use cycles to go from that block to this block.
How is your journey going in MTB Cycling and what are your future goals?
I’d say the states are over, waiting for the Nationals. The date of the Nationals was given in the September 1st week but then they postponed it. The venue was actually Haryana Panchkula area. So now there are landslides, so they have postponed it. They haven’t given the date yet so waiting for Nationals. After I cover up nationals I am aiming for the 2028 Olympics. By the time I will be 18. My coach Karan Kumar Raju is a multiple time National Champion in cycling. I want to see in the foreign areas, I want to go to other tracks out of India. And then I want to see how other riders are, the riders from other countries. I know most of their power as we have nationals and all those riders come there. So now I want to go to the foreign area and then we want to check who is fast there, what is the max power there. So I have to aim like okay, I have to get myself faster each day. We have these workouts and then my nutritionist, she’s also helping a lot. Now even when I got fever with all natural medicines, it’s actually decreased or else I couldn’t even talk.
Have you faced politics by senior assisting you or have you ever felt cheated?
Actually, this question is not for me because all these things in cycling and biking, my dad handles. So that’s like the manager there, so it’s for kids and it’s a little too much for me to handle all of that. So my dad goes there, or coach goes there, talks about all of that and just gets over. I have no idea what’s happening. Politics is everywhere. Sometimes you might have been facing some situations like that. The thing is for other riders, I’ve seen them face that. We have something called individual time trail in our cycling races. So we know each of their timing individually and who finishes the track the fastest, wins. Okay, just like so then when it goes in that manner, goes like maybe a few race officials, they might change the timing by one or 2 seconds. Like maybe they are from this area and then they want that area’s participants to win. So they just randomly put the timing here and there. Even a second or a millisecond matters in that timing trail. And then there’s another type of race that is a mass start. So everybody starts together and who finishes first wins. So that’s like a normal race that happens. So then for that there are no confusions and for the ITP is where the confusions come when there are officials in this way. But I’ve seen this only for other riders because in my category I usually give 30 40 seconds gap. So it’s like how much they try to cut down, they can’t. And most of us use the cycling computer, so we have like a small device where we can calculate our time.
So are there any achievements of yours that you would like to share with us that you are super proud of?
I was seeing all these elder people. They are all so fast and then I catch them. By the end of the race, I was really happy. Even though it was a championship, I came third, I was still so happy. And then this year also, I have started the championship. And for the three races now three rounds are over and two more are coming up. So all three rounds I won the first place. This time, championship first is mostly what I’m going to get. And I’m excited for that. And also, another proud win is the mini GP. I got the fastest girl award in India. And then racing with the boys, I was actually almost getting to the fourth position or the third position. But then the last race, I kind of did a wheelie and then I fell back. So that’s what happened in the last race of the season. And for cycling, my achievements had said all those which I did, the nationals from past three years, I have been in the fourth place. And then last year I get third for like, one race. Okay. I proved that I’m not always getting fourth, but I’m still saying it’s not enough. Third is not enough. And my bronze medal, national bronze medal, I’m literally stuck. I wake up and I see that these are note enough.
How does it feel like after all such achievements, going to school, meeting family, meeting friends?
I’m not going to school. I’m taking online classes. It’s a completely online school. So, I’m in 8th grade right now. And studying online. It’s because if I’m going to school, I’m telling you, in one year, maybe about nine months, I’m going to take leave. So I keep traveling from Bangalore to Chennai. So it’s like the timings are fine. It’s the first half of the day and then I can basically attend from wherever I go. That’s like the main thing. I attend the classes until my race starts and then I will quickly leave. So that’s what I do. So I don’t miss much of classes. And they also give the class recordings so I can get to know what they have done.
What do you like more, studies or sports?
Actually saying sports, I’m not bad at studies. I am good at studies. I’m good at sports too. In my online schooling, my timetable is very weird. Flexible schooling is important these days for sports people. Saying that my day starts by 5:30 or 6 in the morning, I start my cycling training. So then that gets over. I maybe have all that nutrition items. Even when I wake up early morning, I have to have some weird nutrition items. But it actually helps. And then have breakfast, attend classes. By the time the class ends, I go have lunch and then say for studying most of the time. And on Saturdays I’m mostly biking and Sundays or just cycling, I go outdoors. Cycling mostly.
Do you have any plans regarding international sports?
International sports, as I told you, the Olympics. But okay, the thing is, I want to first go practice in the international events. Australia or places like that. I like to go with my coach and my family. I’d like to go there, practice, and get ready for international level training. So, like in India, if you’ve noticed, nobody from India has gone for completely international events, like the World Cup. I haven’t seen anyone from India to go to the World Cup. So I want to work forward, then I want to go forward, I want to train, train and then just go there. That’s all I’m looking for.
One advice from your side to the upcoming bikers, upcoming sports lover.
I’d say first, completely say no to Laziness. And then I’d say just keep training and enjoy your sport, enjoy what you’re doing. Then you will automatically get into the groove. So focusing is important. Yeah. Focus, dedication, and practice. A lot of practice.
Nithila Das stands as a shining example of determination, passion, and the power of chasing one’s dreams, regardless of age. Her journey from a 13-year-old motorbike enthusiast to the fastest rider in South India and a fifth-place ranking in the FIM Mini GP World Series India 2022 is nothing short of inspiring. Nithila’s story reminds us all that with dedication and hard work, remarkable achievements are within reach. As she continues to break barriers and set new records, her impact reaches far beyond the racing circuit, motivating aspiring individuals to embrace their passions and strive for excellence. With a promising future ahead, Nithila Das is undoubtedly a name to watch out for in the world of motorbiking and beyond.