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KALYAN ASHOK
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CHAT Anuradha Vaidyanathan on her love for one of the world’s toughest triathlons

FREE ONESELF FROM ALL SHACKLESAnuradha VaidyanathanPhotos: K. Gopinathan
FREE ONESELF FROM ALL SHACKLESAnuradha VaidyanathanPhotos: K. Gopinathan

Anuradha Vaidyanathan, or Anu as she prefers to call herself is a multi-faceted young woman, who is an Iron Man athlete (Iron Man is an extreme form of triathlon), a successful entrepreneur and an academician who lectures in country’s top B Schools and IITs and a regular speaker on National forums on entrepreneurship, innovations and leadership.

The slightly built, soft spoken Anu hardly fits the image of a sportswoman, who is into an extreme sports. She was the first Indian to qualify for the Half Ironman World Championships and also the first Asian to participate in the Ultraman Triathlon in 10 km swim, 420 km biking, 84.4 km run, finishing in sixth place. Becoming a triathlete was hardly a childhood dream. She was more interested in academics, especially English literature, history and geography. “The love for basic sports came much later, like an after thought and has surpassed anything I could imagine,” says Anu.

“Triathlon is a tough sport and Ironman is the toughest single-day triathlon — it needs lifelong dedication to the processes, exceptional discipline and mental makeup," she says.

Anu admits that she is handicapped by the lack of sponsors, barring a few. “I have had very few consistent sponsors — TIMEX has been brilliant with their equipment which I use every day and I have a few other private sponsors for individual races. I have not made any money from the sport and that is not my main motivation to begin with. I am interested in seeing how good I can be and until my motivation and love for the sport lasts, I will continue taking part. The media is still very puzzled about what triathlon is - I have a lot of trouble getting my races reported and if it is the IPL season then I can pretty much forget about it! ” she says.

Though she has raced round the globe for the past five years, she regards an event in Toronto as her best. “My best race was last year at a scratch race in Toronto — I had a hard time getting started but ended up finishing strong.”

About how long she is going to continue with her sport, Anu declares, “I don’t really have an expiry date — if Vishwanathan Anand can continue playing well into his 40s, then I expect the same if not longer for myself.”

KALYAN ASHOK

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