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Charvi Tanksale: Cycling her way to the top

Melbourne teenager Charvi Tanksale makes a mark at the AusCycling Junior Track National Championships

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“I wish to represent Australia in the 2032 Brisbane Olympics,” says cyclist Charvi Tanksale of Melbourne.

The resolve is strong and the hard work for it has already started for the current (U-15) state track champion of Victoria, and bronze winner at the recently concluded 2024 AusCycling Junior Track National Championships in Brisbane.

The Wesley College student trains most days of the month, and works out at the gym at least twice a week. It’s a hard balance with her schoolwork and keeping up with her friends but she says she enjoys the sport and the exposure it has granted her travelling around the country, competing and with making friends in the niche world of cycling.

Although Charvi has been cycling since her early years, she started enjoying it more during the long COVID-19 lockdowns, riding regularly around home with her father in January 2021. Chance participation in a road-safety program led the then 10-year-old to discover indoor cycling at the DISC Velodrome in Thornbury. Having enjoyed her first brush with the sport, Charvi quickly joined the Carnegie Caulfield Club to explore the sport further and participated in her first cycling race within just a few months.

Cut to 2024, Charvi has made a place for herself in the Victoria state team, cycling competitively in the track category. She enjoys the short and sharp races indoors, though she also has her eyes set on getting into the road state team, which would take her into the regional parts of the state for longer distance cycling with bigger groups. She also enjoyed her experience at the 2024 state Keirin championship, riding behind a motorbike for a part of the race, which she believes was her best race of the year so far.

“To pursue a sport at the national level is not easy, and you must work hard for it,” she says with a maturity far beyond her age, while also admitting that she sometimes misses out on having a ‘routine’ life.

“I miss out on many activities at school or in the family, but I believe one has to take these sacrifices in stride,” Charvi says, lamenting about the school camp that she missed out on because she was away for competition.

She credits her school as well as her parents, Akshat and Sonika Tanksale for their support and hard work, including getting her access to the best sporting equipment, travelling with her and taking special care of her diet and other requirements. “I am a vegetarian. My mother takes great pains to ensure that I eat a protein-heavy diet. I try to keep pace with the school learning, and sometimes end up finishing my homework in the car, travelling to and from training,” she says with a smile.

It’s been a completely new experience for her parents, both working as professors in Melbourne-based universities.

“But that’s the advantage of living in a country that is so sporty,” explains Akshat. “It started out as a hobby for Charvi, but we saw her potential and we are very happy to support her journey. Cycling is primarily a European sport, but we are lucky that we have access to the best facilities and even coaches who have been training and guiding Charvi.”

Charvi also draws her inspiration from Sarah Gigante, winner of the 2024 Santos Tour Down Under who claimed victory despite major setbacks.

“I too had crashed twice just before the National championship but remembering her story kept me motivated,” she reveals.

Will that be her mantra for succeeding at the Olympics, still about eight years away?

“Maybe. I am focusing on getting better at my sport with short-term goals,” Charvi Tanksale says.

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