Mountain bike is becoming more and more popular in Asia, especially among young people, according to Onkar Singh, secretary general of Asian Cycling Confederation (ACC).
Singh is optimistic about the future development of mountain cycling in Asia in an exclusive interview with Xinhua as the 23rd Asian Mountain Bike Championships & 9th Asian Junior Mountain Bike Championships was underway at Xuancheng, Anhui Province.
The number of both junior and senior participants increased in this year's event, leading to a more fiercely contested event.
"Mountain bike is interesting and competitive and juniors tend to do it," he said. In Singh's opinion, these junior participants will grow into seniors with better skills several years later, and then have more opportunities to qualify for the Olympic Games and the World Championships. So "the increase of junior participants will promote the development of mountain cycling in Asia," he said.
Europe traditionally is strong in cycling but China announced its intention to have a say in this sport at the 2016 Rio Olympics where Gong Jinjie and Zhong Tianshi claimed the country's first ever Olympic cycling gold.
According to Singh, European countries and regions are in close proximity to each other, so it is easy for Europeans cyclists to travel within Europe to compete with each other, thus competitions are frequently held. However, as a much bigger continent, Asia is at a disadvantage.
"When we go from here (Xuancheng) to Shanghai, they may go through three countries," he said. But he also pointed out that the number of competition in Asia is increasing in recent years.
Speaking of future plans, Singh said that ACC would hold competitions and help train better coaches.