Meet 16-year-old Karen Marshall from Mysuru, Karnataka. This young lady is the double gold MTB National Champion. She won both the Mass Start and ITT races in her age group with two solid performances.
Success doesn’t come overnight and Karen, who won her first cycle race at the tender age of 4 years, seriously started racing from 2017, when she joined the Cycling Mysooru Academy. This institution run by her coach, Nagaraj, has seen some top mountain biking talent taking the nationals by storm. Inspired by the hard work, grit, determination and talent of her teammates, Karen was also destined for greater things.
In her first crack at the state selections in 2017, she finished 6th. The next year she improved drastically to finish first and represent her state at the nationals. She went on to win a silver and bronze at the nationals that year. The next national championship was injury plagued, yet she managed a silver.
As Karen says, “I always think that I need to give my 100% during training, if I want to succeed in the races. I wanted to change the colour of my medal, that was silver to gold. To be on top of the podium at nationals was my aim for this year. It was my dream come true moment.”
Karen also rides and races road, but she prefers mountain biking. “I always prefer MTB because it’s all about fun, thrill, adventure, adrenaline rush, racing in the mud. I like to do stunts with my bike and to ride on trails,” she adds.
Like the rest of the country, Mysuru also has mostly recreational cyclists, with just a handful of people interested in racing. Karen also enjoys using her bike for most of her travel duties and not just racing. Still being in school, means she needs to balance her education and cycling love, and she is lucky to get good support from her school.
Karen’s cycling role models are Kate Courtney and Jolanda Neff, top female athletes who inspire young girls like Karen around the world. Closer home, racing at the nationals, she also learns a lot by watching the elite men’s races. Especially from the athletes who have represented the country at the Asians.
Her goals for the future are lofty, but at the same time realistic. “The future as an MTB racer is to be the best female cyclist in the country and to bring glory to my country.” It shows a maturity beyond age, where she has her head firmly on her shoulders.
She parts with these words, “Finally I am grateful for my parents, family support, my coach (Nagraj), my trainer (Shivraj), my teammates, my supporters and all my well-wishers.” And “Work hard, do what you love and believe anything is possible.”
CyclingMonks is delighted to see and feature young talents like Karen and we hope she will inspire you to ride and race, as much as she does us. And for all the parents out there reading this, get your kid into a sport… err, we mean cycling, but anything else will also do!
You can check out all the results from the MTB National Championships here.
Photos Courtesy: Karen Marshall. You can follow her on Instagram
You can also read about 15-year-old Reuben Nicol Kharchandy, upcoming DH mountain biker from Shillong, Meghalaya.