India's hopes for a first ever medal in track cycling at the Commonwealth Games rest on Ronaldo and David Beckham, as the pair are both set to compete in the men's sprint, men's 1000m time trial, the men's Keirin and the men's team sprint at the Birmingham event.
However, they aren't quite the footballing superstars of Ronaldo - Cristiano or Luís Nazário - or Beckham you might have in mind.
Instead, Ronaldo Singh Laitonjam and David Beckham Elkatohchoongo are just 20 and 18-years-old, respectively, and were named after some of the greatest footballers of their generation. Despite their namesakes, though, they are now competing at the Commonwealth Games, aiming for track cycling gold medals.
Born on June 22, 2002, Ronaldo Singh is actually named after Ronaldinho Gaucho, Ronaldo Nazário's Brazilian teammate. Ronaldinho's real name is Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, and Singh is so called because the day before his birth, the Brazilian forward scored one of the FIFA World Cup's most iconic goals.
While playing against England in the quarter-finals of the World Cup at Japan's Shizuoka Stadium, Ronaldinho scored a free-kick from some 40 yards. Ronaldo Singh's father received a telephone call from his wife at the exact moment Ronaldinho's free kick went in, telling him that she had gone into labour.
“Just as the ball went in the goal, I must have started making an appearance,” Ronaldo Singh told Hindu. “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.”
Ronaldo Singh opted for cycling over football, though, a wise decision considering he won a team sprint gold medal in the 2019 Junior Track Cycling World Championships in Germany.
The 20-year-old then won the junior men's Leirin at the Asian Track Cycling Championships that same year in South Korea, before, in 2022, he picked up a silver medal in the men's elite sprint race at the Asian Track Cycling Championships. He also earned a bronze medal in the men's 1km time trial and the men's team sprint, highlighting some fine form to head to the Commonwealths with.
Meanwhile, David Beckham Elkatohchoongo hails from a Manchester United-supporting family, whose favourite player just so happened to be the English winger he is named after.
The 18-year-old is a successful junior cyclist who won multiple gold medals in the under-17 boys’ category at the Khelo India Youth Games 2020 held in Guwahati, Assam. Beckham also formed part of the team which won bronze at the Asian Track Cycling Championships 2022, and will compete in the same events Ronaldo Singh is at the Commonwealth Games.
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