What’s in a name? David Beckham and Ronaldo grace Asian Games
HANGZHOU – David Beckham made his Asian Games debut on Wednesday in the same team as Ronaldo but sadly, it was not in the football tournament.
David Beckham Elkatohchoongo, 20, and Ronaldo Laitonjam Singh, 21, are both track cyclists for India.
But 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 the team sprint qualification.
Beckham placed ninth in Wednesday’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 asked how he got his name.
“When I was born in the hospital, they told my mum – if it’s a boy, then it’s David Beckham. I am also a big fan of the English David Beckham because he was such a good player, my father loved him and is a really big fan of him.”
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 added.
“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.”
With such a high-profile name, the attention is always on Elkatohchoongo but the possibility of encountering problems is also higher, as he found out at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022.
He revealed that he was stopped by immigration officials and was allowed into England only after they double-checked his passport.
“When I got to the airport, the (passport) inspector said, ‘Is that really your name, David Beckham? You are lying, you are not David Beckham’.
“Then he saw my ID and had to concede that my real name was David Beckham.”
Laitonjam Singh’s father was similarly a football fan and a massive supporter of the former Brazil wizard Ronaldinho, which was surprising as he named his son Ronaldo instead – although Ronaldinho translates to “little Ronaldo”.
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.
The Brazilian 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 2,000km away.
“Just as the ball went in the goal, I must have started making an appearance,” Laitonjam Singh told The Hindu newspaper. “I think my dad won some money that day. That’s why I got that name. He felt I was very lucky for him.
“He was a great inspiration for me (as well). He put in a lot of work so I would be an international medallist. That was always his dream. He passed away in 2017, so every time I compete, I try to make him proud of me.” - AFP