Other Sports

Aishwarya — on the tough lane to success

Aishwarya Pissay .

Aishwarya Pissay .   | Photo Credit: M_PERIASAMY

Roughing it out in a male-dominated sport

When Aishwarya Pissay had her first tryst with bikes three years ago, little did she know that she would come this far. “It started with weekend trips with my friends,” she recollects. “I then did a TV show in which I had to travel more than 8,000km over 24 days; from the Rann of Kutch to Cherrapunji. But I didn’t know that I was capable of what I am doing right now.”

The 21-year-old is the reigning girls’ National two-wheeler champion — in fact the first-ever winner — and earlier this year won the Indian Rally championship for girls. But, her most recent success is arguably her biggest till date — at the Raid de Himalaya (RdH), riding an Apache RTR 200, she came fourth in the Moto Xtreme category (Group B modified class) and was the only woman to finish.

“I could have come third, but because of some unexpected circumstances I couldn't. But, it feels nice to complete it and be placed fourth.”

However, it’s easier said than done. The nearly 2,000km, six-day long RdH is a gruelling event. Altitudes range from 2000-5500m and temperatures are often near zero; so much so that only 15 of 52 bikes finished the rally this year.

Aishwarya herself had to overcome three crashes and battle ‘altitude sickness’. On top of everything there was always the social stigma associated with a female trying to make it big in a male-dominated sport.

“I am really thankful to TVS for all the support. There was no difference in the way they managed my bike. We were all treated on par.”

Aishwarya had participated in the RdH last year, too, but as a privateer and couldn’t last more than a day. “One of the lady riders I look up to at the Dakar Rally is Laia Sanz (a 13-time women's Trial World champion). Next year, if possible I’ll try and do some events outside India.

“I am definitely happy with my progress. Maybe I could have started a bit earlier. But considering that I am in India and with all the things I am doing now, I feel happy and blessed.”

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 7:44:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/aishwarya-on-the-tough-lane-to-success/article19897782.ece

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