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India’s new Iron lady

india Updated: Sep 05, 2009 23:30 IST
Deepika Sharma

Every day Anu Vaidyanathan lives two lives, one of an engineer and the other of a triathlete. At 29, Vaidyanathan is strong, mentally tough and has a passion for clearing obstacles - that's what makes her India's first triathlete.

Last month, Vaidyanathan became the first Indian to compete, and complete, the Ultraman Canada, which is considered the ultimate endurance race for a triathlete.

What started as a passion a few years ago - she would run and bike for hours--- has now become her only love in life. Four years ago, Vaidyanathan took the big decision of going to the United States to train. The first two years were excruciating. With no one to look after her and money being an obvious hindrance, it was just the beginn ing of a very arduous journey. “The first couple of years were tough. It didn't feel that great,” Vaidyanathan told HT from Wasatch County, Utah.

But Vaidyanathan went on to clear this obstacle too.

She backpacked to train with a group of other triathletes from different parts of the world all across the US. Now, Vaidyanathan specialises in half-Ironman (1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21.2km run) and Ironman length (3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42,2km run) events, which are amongst the most difficult single-day endurance events in the world.

“While pursuing my engineering in North Carolina I would do a lot of biking and swimming. But what really drove me to work even harder and take it up professionally was after the Mumbai Marathon a few years ago.

“Some of the world's most renowned runners were there. But the crowd cared least about them. They were there to see the Bollywood stars,” exclaims Vaidyanathan, who finished her first Ironman length event in 2006.

Indranil Blah, vice-president-sports, Globosport, who is managing Vaidyanathan --- Timex is also supporting her --- feels it was the triathlete's persistence and passion that impressed the company. “Being the only Indian triahtlete to be training abroad, we felt we could help her get a bit exposure. Getting her endorsements are tough but we are happy to know that she has now found an equipment sponsor.” “She approached us a year back and kept us updated with her results. She is extremely passionate about what she is doing.”

Judging by the way she has been overcoming the different challenges life's been throwing at her, Vaidyanathan looks well on her way of realising her dreams.