With sports like Ice Skating, Ice Hockey, or Curling not popular in India primarily due to the country’s location near the Equator. So, what is it like to choose a career which can be precarious in India due to unpopularity, uncertainty, and lack of infrastructure?
At a time, sports were a tough profession for women in India. Things have been changing lately due to globalization and few other factors but yes, it’s not been easy for me to be where I am today, if it hadn’t been my family who have been pillars throughout. Apart from that, speed skating is an extremely demanding sport. You need to have an extraordinarily strong lower body and core, as well as good cardio; at the same time, you need to have the skill of skating as fast as possible on a very thin and long blades.
Other than the sports scenario, the biggest challenge is living alone! Athlete’s life can be monotonous and stressful because of the need of everyday training for the frequent competitions. Living away from home, family and friends is the toughest part of this journey! How do you cope with such instances?
During the time, I was still in college and lacked the motivation to flow with the change. I had to completely move my base and live alone. Nobody had done something like that before in my family. But it was my family, especially my mother, that supported me. My father gave me the liberty to choose my own career and has always supported my decisions from an incredibly young age. Being a national level athlete in her school days, my mother took all the responsibility for my practice and races all over India. She made sure I never gave up. My family had their own set of doubts, and I had mine too, but my dedication and passion were above all such reservations.
We all knew the limitations that were possibly heading towards us once I chose this path, but the support was always there! My then fiancé (now husband) and I were in a long-distance relationship for a very long time and stayed apart for years. He understood my pain and passion because he is also a skater. We managed to get through the hardest phase of our lives together lifting each other up and today I can say that it only made our relationship stronger, and it was all for the love of skating!
You received a scholarship from the International Skating Union in 2012, which enabled you to travel to Germany for speed skating training under Canadian skater Jeremy Wotherspoon. Why & how did you get this great opportunity? Also how did it help you as a skater and an individual in the long run?
I was overwhelmed when I got to know that (Jeremy) would be my coach. I always wanted to learn from the right technique and there was no one in India who could teach that.
Jeremy suggested I move to Calgary, Canada, the best place to hone skating skills. But to make such a bold move was not easy. I was still in college. Moving to a different country for sports and living alone is something considered off-limits for a girl by our society. But my family supported me to break these stereotypes and to live that dream.
After that there was no looking back for. I trained in Calgary for a couple of years, held the national records in long track speed skating and even broke it. In 2017, she participated in Asian Winter Games in 2017.