Triathlete Anu Vaidyanathan has carved a niche for herself
“I seldom look back; I believe, once people look back and start counting their miles, races or highs, the game is over,” says Anuradha Vaidyanathan — engineer, athlete, entrepreneur, teacher and poet — all rolled into one.
Anuradha, popularly known as Anu, may have carved a niche for herself for being a multi-faceted personality, but her claim to fame has been her decision to take up a tough sport like triathlon — a discipline that includes swimming, cycling and running.
Triathlon tests one's endurance level. The distances vary for different events. For example, in the Olympics, it is 1.5 km of swimming, 40 km of biking and 10 km of running while in an Ironman race — a favourite event for Anu — it is 3.2 km swimming, 180 km biking and 42.2 km running.
How difficult it is for a woman to compete in long-course triathlon events all around the globe?
“All the credit goes to my family which never differentiated between my brother and me…It was tough to get sponsors and it was tough to train outside. But I believe, ultimately, we are responsible to make progress towards our goals or dreams. If there is a problem, find a solution. Some of the traps are in our own mind and we need to be aware of that,” asserts Anu, who now is being sponsored by brands like Timex, WorldSport Group and GMR Sport.
The first Indian to train for long-course triathlons, she does not enjoy the stereotype way of life. It was natural that she opted the hard way to be known as a sportsperson.
“I like new challenges and exploring uncharted islands. I think triathlon is a little like that. I had no clue what it would involve. I just trained a lot and worked incredibly hard at it…I didn't care about prizes or recognition for several years and I still don't.
However, it does feel good that persistence is appreciated.”
While pursuing triathlon, Anu never lost focus of the need to be a self-dependent woman. By running her own company (PatNMarks, a Bangalore-based firm that offers patenting solutions and intellectual property management services) and teaching at IIT Ropar and then at IIM Ahmedabad, she has ensured that financial independence.
“I am a working woman, I believe in paying my own bills, through my own effort,” says Anu, who has done her PhD in electrical and computer engineering.
The gritty lady also feels fortunate to have a life partner who has been thoroughly supportive. “The greatest thing we can do for our partners is to respect, love and support them unconditionally,” she says.
In her early thirties, Anu represents the progressive Indian woman, who is confident about her abilities and clear about her priorities. As she says, she can only talk about herself but that can eventually inspire a generation and maybe a nation.