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Beckham, Ronaldo grace Asian Games

HANGZHOU, CHINA (AFP) – David Beckham made his Asian Games debut yesterday in the same team as Ronaldo but not, sadly, in the football tournament.

David Beckham Elkatohchoongo and Ronaldo Laitonjam Singh are both track cyclists for India. And they did bend it like Beckham as they sped round the steeply banked curves of the Chun’an Jieshou Sports Centre Velodrome.

Ronaldo had made his Games debut on Tuesday, helping India to fifth place in Tuesday’s team sprint qualification. Beckham was placed ninth in yesterday’s individual sprint qualifying, four places higher than Ronaldo.

“My father was a footballer in the national team, and he was a huge fan of David Beckham,” Elkatohchoongo explained.

“When I was born in the hospital, they told my mum: if it’s a boy, then it’s David Beckham.”

One might think with a name like that he might have turned to football rather than cycling.

“I played football when I was young, 14 years old,” he said.

India’s David Beckham Elkatohchoongo, Ronaldo Laitonjam Singh and Rojit Yanglem Singh during the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. PHOTO: AFP

“I switched to cycling in 2017, and I started my professional cycling (career) in Delhi five years ago, and now I’m in the professional league properly.”

Laitonjam’s father was similarly a massive fan of the former Barcelona and Brazil wizard Ronaldinho.

Posted in Kashmir for work, he had a wager with some friends on Ronaldinho to score against England in the quarter-final of the 2002 World Cup.

Ronaldinho obliged with the winner in a 2-1 victory and Brazil went on to lift the trophy.

Seconds after the game, the phone rang and he discovered his wife had gone into labour in their home town of Imphal almost 2,000 kilometres away.

“Just as the ball went in the goal, I must have started making an appearance,” Laitonjam told The Hindu newspaper.

“I think my dad won some money that day. That’s probably why I got that name. He felt I was very lucky for him.”