Medha Belwadi tackles the world on one wheel

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Photo by Sruthi Medepalli

Reintroducing herself to the art of unicycling, Medha Belwadi balances on one wheel.

Sruthi Medepalli

Quarantine has revealed a host of unexpectedly talented Lynbrook students, including junior Medha Belwadi, who reintroduced herself to the art of balancing on one wheel. Despite discovering the unicycle through a middle school elective course, it was only during 2020 that she found the time to return to  it.

While unicycling might conjure the image of clowns in a circus, the sport can be practiced by anyone. When Christa McAuliffe Middle School presented unicycling as a course offering for Belwadi, its eccentricity drew her in. Practicing unicycling, juggling and spinning a diabolo helped her hone the necessary skills of balance and spatial awareness.

“It’s something you don’t see around very often, and I thought it was really cool that I was learning to do something that was so extraordinary,” Belwadi said.

Learning to balance on the wheel is not only an unorthodox skill but also a way to get mental and physical exercise. Amid students’ technology-filled days, taking a step away from a computer and getting on her unicycle improved Beldwadi’s mindset and her ability to focus. Because of the complexity of unicycling, she developed skills such as balancing and checking spatial awareness.

Unicycling connected Belwadi to those around her. As a rookie to unicycling and a middle schooler with a low attention span, she forged relationships with teachers and friends as they helped her to learn the sport. In order to fully begin cycling, Belwadi needs someone to keep her balanced and give her a push. This seemingly individual sport became a team effort and a way for her to spend time with people she loved.

“Every time I ride my unicycle, something funny and memorable happens, and it allows me to remember to cherish the people in my life,” Belwadi said.

While other wheeled sports have increased in popularity, unicycling remains close to Belwadi’s heart. Balance is the deciding factor of a unicyclist’s success, as unicycling requires constant rotations of the leg and arms to maintain a stable center of balance.

At her best, Belwadi recounts being able to unicycle up to 30 feet without falling off and looks to improve this record with more practice. Over the past year, she has devoted around an hour a week to the unicycle and has improved greatly. Other sports she enjoys include skateboarding and biking.

In unicycling, Belwadi found a creative stress-relieving activity to clear her mind. Her experience has given her not only an unusual skill but also personal joy.

“It’s something fun for me to do, and it pumps my adrenaline,” Belwadi said. “When you’re riding a unicycle and you’re constantly terrified of falling off, it takes your mind off everything else.”