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At the Asian Games 2023, two athletes on the Indian team, uniquely named after football legends David Beckham and Ronaldinho, have become the talk of the sporting world. David Beckham Elkatohchoongo and Ronaldo Laitonjam are ensuring their iconic namesakes echo on the cycling track.

Earlier, Elkatohchoongo’s journey to the Commonwealth Games included an interesting incident at the airport. Immigration officials scrutinised his passport multiple times, finding it hard to believe that someone could genuinely be named David Beckham.

It wasn’t until they saw the formal identification that they permitted him entry into the country. Elkatohchoongo recalls how his father, a street footballer himself, had always admired the English Beckham and named his son in tribute.

“When I was in my mum’s tummy, in the hospital, my dad said, ‘When the baby is taken out, he shall be named David Beckham’,” The Daily Mirror quoted the Indian cyclist as saying.

India's David Beckham Elkatohchoongo (L) and Kazakhstan's Sergey Ponomaryov (R) compete in the men's sprint 1/16 finals of the cycling track event during the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang province on September 27, 2023. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP)

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India’s David Beckham Elkatohchoongo (L) and Kazakhstan’s Sergey Ponomaryov (R) compete in the men’s sprint 1/16 finals of the cycling track event during the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou in China’s eastern Zhejiang province on September 27, 2023. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) (Jung Yeon-je / AFP)

“I am 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.”

Laitonjam’s tale is no less fascinating. His father was a big fan of the Brazilian Ronaldinho. Laitonjam’s moniker was bestowed upon him when his father celebrated a successful bet placed on the famous footballer. The goal that Ronaldo scored in 2002 inspired his father to name him in honour of the legendary athlete.

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Elkatohchoongo feels an emotional connection with his name. Laitonjam also recognises the empowerment that comes with carrying a name associated with champions. For him, it acts as a constant reminder of the path he wishes to tread — one leading to victory and greatness.

These cyclists are not just namesakes but also devoted fans of the players after whom they are named. The duo even dream of meeting their football heroes someday, making their already fascinating story a captivating blend of reverence and ambition.

On September 27, while David Beckham Elkatohchoongo advanced impressively to the quarterfinals at the Asian Games 2023, Ronaldo Singh Laitonjam was unable to move forward in the competition.

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Updated: 27 Sep 2023, 11:37 AM IST

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