A medical student who finds time for competitive roller skating? Nineteen-year-old Aarathy Kasturiraj, who has won 112 medals in the sport, says it’s all about striking a balance

Frequent falls, numerous bruises and a bleeding chin haven’t deterred Aarathy Kasturiraj from skating. Twelve years on, the young skater from Chennai says she’s still as much in love with the sport as she was when she strapped on her first pair of skates. “Even now I continue to fall and get hurt. It’s a tough sport,” she smiles.

Aarathy was seven when she took to skating. Before that she had tried swimming and handball. “But it was skating that thrilled me because of its speed. I saw a few people skate at the Anna Nagar Tower Park; I was fascinated and promptly enrolled for a course. Though I focus more on roller skating I also do a bit of ice skating,” she says.

The 19-year-old is the first girl from India to finish 10 in the World Championship held at China in 2009 and in Korea in 2011. “These victories and bagging the National Child Award For Exceptional Achievement in 2008 are special to me. I started skating in 2001 and participated in my first Nationals in 2002. It took me four years to win my first National gold medal and I now have 24 National medals to my credit. Has she lost count of the number of medals? “No, I have 112, of which 95 are gold, 10 are silver and seven, bronze. This includes medals won both at the national and international levels,” she smiles.

Sure, she does the balancing act quite well and that’s not just when she’s poised on her pair of inline skates but also when it comes to her MBBS course and hectic skating schedule. I train six hours a day…5 to 8 in the morning and 5.30 to 8.30 in the evening.” The time in between is spent at college (SRMC), cramming her mind with Gray’s Anatomy. “I return from college by 4.30, quickly change, eat and set out for practice. Once I get back, I spend an hour studying…that’s on some days.” Does this packed schedule eat into her social life? “Yes, I have no time to go out with friends, or go partying, no time for television…I also have to follow a healthy diet and stay off junk food. But I don’t regret it because I know I have to give up something to achieve something.”

Has skating as a competitive sport developed in the city? “From when I started, till now, I have seen quite a few people taking to the sport. At the District or State Championships, you see a good turnout,” she says, pleased with the growing popularity of the sport. However, she is upset that roller skating didn’t make it to the Olympics.

Her sister Aaradhana skates as well…but is into figure skating and is also a squash player. Their parents too were athletes when they were young. And has Aarathy tried getting them to skate? “Yes, I did once and they weren’t so bad,” she laughs. It’s time for a training session. She gets into her gear and whizzes off, soon becoming a blur.