“I was always taught that accepting failure is not an option unless you think you have given it your all.”
20 years old Ravija Singal, lives in Mumbai and she spends most of the time listening to music, reading and writing. She is the youngest Asian woman to bag the Iron Man title at Busselton, Australia in 2018.
Those who don’t know what Ironman is, the event includes 3.8 km swimming, 180 km cycling, and 42.2 km which has to be completed in 17 hours. Ravija finished it in 16:05:45.
A national-level swimmer, Ravija says she has always been athletic. She was roughly 3 years old when her parents put her into swimming and since then she's absolutely loved the sport. She played various nationals and has a total medal tally of 112 medals. She is generally a fan of all kinds of sports and has a special respect for athletes.
Ravija says, “after I finished my first year and was back from all India university swimming games I was really saturated with swimming and wanted to do something more challenging from what I had been doing. I really wanted to show people that being a girl doesn’t stop you or limit you from achieving things that look far fetched. Because people just expect girls to be weak not just me in particular but I have seen people stereotype women a lot but, in these situations. I look up to my mom, she is an IAS officer and a total boss lady. She handles her work and family as no one else can. So I looked things up and with my coach in Nashik Dr.Mustafa Topiwala and Dr.Pimprekar’s sports Med gym in Nashik and we decided to take up a challenge of Ironman. This was around October 2017”.
Ravija’s father (Dr.) Ravinder Kumar Singal who was then posted in Nashik was also preparing for Ironman and was her training partner. She says, “Training with my father was actually very difficult sometimes we had to match our training times. Sometimes we’d start our schedules as early as 2-3 AM. Due to the age gap, we had very different ways of doing the same things and we fought a lot but we also taught each other our bits and tricks. We gave each other pointers and grew closer in the process. Because we both wanted each other to do better and training together helped us better our performance."
Ravija and her father were preparing year-round for their race from October 2017 and tried the challenge in August 2018 in France, Vichy. Ravija lost the cut off by 5 minutes and her father successfully finished the race on time and became an IRONMAN.
“I was disappointed, a little jealous of my dad and very disheartened but I was sad on the inside because I let down my father. So I decided for the second attempt at Ironman and it was just for him.”
Ravija says when he found out that she will attempt it for the second time, he was even happier that she did it in the given time. "My house was lit like it would be for Diwali because I was always taught that accepting failure is not an option unless you think you have given it your all and I didn’t think I gave it my all in the first attempt so a second attempt was mandatory in a way.", says Ravija.
"But I did feel pressured when I gave my second attempt at Ironman because I had failed once I didn’t want to let everyone who had their hopes on me down again. I think I’ve as an athlete developed the quality to zone out when I am training or competing, I am in my own zone where outside forces don’t affect me and I am in full control of my thoughts.
During my training except for the physical stress, the tougher part for me was the mental stress waking up on days you do not have the energy to move or feeling unmotivated. It was very difficult to convince myself but I had the best coaches, my loving family, and friends that were there for me. Being a girl when you train for a race like Ironman in the sun and the open your skin, your hair everything goes for a toss it was quite hard to deal with those aspects as well especially because I am a girly girl and I like looking on point and dressing up", She adds.
She was training 6 days a week, 3 days gyming, 2-3 hours, and 3 days on land training which could be from 2-8 hours, it was outdoors and could be any combination or individual of three sports swimming, cycling, and running. Later she started training 5 days a week with 2-4 hours of gymming 2 days a week and 6-12 hours a day outdoors training 3 days a week. These schedules were accompanied by steady diets and plenty of rest and recovery because Ravija thinks Ironman is a race against time and yourself. It’s about how much you can push yourself.
In her own words, "And after all this hardship, when the final day came, on 2nd December 2018 in Busselton Australia, when I crossed the finish line with the tricolour on my shoulders I was beyond happy it felt like one of those bigger than life moments I remember laughing like crazy, I couldn’t feel my body. I was tired and dehydrated but I hugged my Masi and Mausaji who had gone with me and then I went to the athletes' zone with my medal to get photographed and there alone, I for the first time in my life cried tears of joy. That moment was so overwhelming it was crazy it is still crystal clear in my memory it’s embedded there forever. Both my parents couldn’t accompany me for the race but it was a very big thing for them."
Ravija thinks that since awareness of such sports is so limited that you don’t see these sports receiving the same amount of attention. I do try to raise awareness about the triathlons among my peers and I love getting in touch with other triathletes sharing my stories with them and listening to theirs and I do believe that girls who have to work harder to prove themselves come out of it so much stronger.
This blog is a part of the Father's Day tribute. Inspire Crew wants to tell everyone that every day could be a day to cherish your loved ones to create our path ahead. Her father stood alongside her throughout this journey telling her to try once more. Society should be encouraged to listen to what women, daughters and girls had to say. We should make everyone comfortable with their strength and weaknesses. Women were never weak but their upbringing made them weak. In today's world, those who have managed to overcome and fight stigmas are known to be great but we should know that we don't need to dress up to bring a change but to focus on how to encourage more women to be who they are and work on it to make a better version of themselves.
If you know any Indian person who is breaking barriers in extreme and adventure sports, then write to us. We would love to let people know about them and inspire others.
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