Squash’s Mahe Man
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It's not just about the bike. For Mahesh Mangaonkar his daily spinning workout on the wheeled machine tells him just how much of a heart he has for what is always a dogfight in his chosen sport called squash.
He was ordered onto the bike by former squash pro - Ritwik Bhattacharya, one of the canniest fighters when thrown within the four walls of the sport, and now a demanding coach to the Mumbai youngster. Mangaonkar stepped up a gear on the fitness front and on a very good day can boast of a max heart rate of 200bpm. "I've gone up to 175 and 190 often. Even 200. But I can stay on 175bpm for 30 seconds," the 19-year-old says gleefully, after having won his final Junior Nationals.
Mangaonkar had won the title last year too, though a slip-up in his final season among the colts would've been a dampener. "I saw the draw and I knew it'd be easy and was expecting to do well. The withdrawal of the second seed also helped," he says.
But sterner tests await him in the seniors, even as this u-19 career draws to a close. There's still the u-19 British Juniors - which he won in the u-15 level, and is second most prestigious title after the world juniors - to be conquered, but with the Egyptians coming in droves (Mazen Hisham's the bolting colt this time), Mangaonkar is keen to make a statement there. "The Egyptians are always big there. But if I can win that, it'll be big for the country," he says. Saurav Ghosal was the last Indian winner, but that was eight years ago.
Mangaonkar will bid the u-19 circuit goodbye at the Asian juniors team event in Korea.
Bhattacharya meanwhile, has tried his best to pour in as much knowledge into his young ward as possible. "Routine planning has involved a lot of mental training tapes. I've changed my fitness programmes, and made them tougher after his advice. The bike session's the best," he says.
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