New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) The tragic death of India's cycling coach Ruma Chatterjee in a road accident on the Noida Expressway Tuesday morning has come as a major setback for the national team that was preparing for the World Championships.
Ruma, who hails from Kolkata, was hit by a speeding vehicle while she was training with the junior cyclists. The 51-year-old was taken to the nearby Kailash Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. Ruma, a spinster, leaves behind her 77-year-old mother and five sisters.
Besides representing India thrice in international competitions, she served as coach seven times and was part of the national team since the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Ruma, a strict disciplinarian, was popular among her wards. It was under her tutelage that India produced their best ever show in the Asian Championships, winning four medals here in March. Deborah bagged three medals while another teenager Manorama Devi won a silver.
Cycling Federation of India (CFI) secretary general Onkar Singh paid rich tributes to the coach. Onkar Singh said Ruma had worked hard to develop a close relationship with the juniors.
"It is a very sad day for us. She liked to do things in her own way but was totally committed. Earlier, she was taking care of the seniors but after the Asian event she started focusing on the juniors as well. She was always there for the kids. It would be tough for us to replace her," Onkar Singh told IANS.
Ruma was set to travel with a four-member girls team to train in the International Cycling Union (UCI) academy in Switzerland, ahead of the Scotland World Championships in August. As luck would have it, the team's Swiss tour has been called off owing to visa issues.
"It is another unfortunate thing that the Schengen visa for the Indian team has been rejected. Now it seems there was no way the girls could have gone without their coach," Onkar Singh said.