India’s Ironman triathlete Kaustubh Radkar has advised the budding Indian athletes to choose their challenges wisely and give themselves ample opportunity to train for the competitions. Radkar also feels that although Ironman triathlon is an expensive sport, one can easily manage it.
India have always lacked quality triathletes in its sporting history. Triathlon, a sport which includes running, cycling, and swimming is a part of the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, as well as the Asian Games, has hardly seen the nation excelling it. However, the Ironman category, considered as one of the most gruelling sporting events of the sport, is now gaining popularity in the country.
While the Olympic standard of the sport demands 1.5km of swimming, 40km on bicycle and 10km of running, an Ironman triathlete has to do a lot more. The event, which is also called Triathlon 140.6 (total miles covered), includes 3.9km of swimming, 181km on the bike and 42.2km of running.
Kaustubh Radkar is one of India’s best Ironman triathletes and he has advised the upcoming triathletes of the country to make sure that they choose their events wisely.
“Number one advice that any coach or any experienced Ironman athlete will give is to select your events wisely but give yourself ample opportunity to train. Don’t try to shorten the time window to an event. Training is the most important discipline.....” Radkar, who is a Speedo brand advocate, told SportsCafe during his recent visit to Bengaluru for the inauguration of a Speedo store.
Speaking about the cost associated with the sport and the general belief of the sport being an expensive one, the 22-time Ironman stated, “Obviously yes, it is not a cheap sport. Number one is the bike, if that is invested and then it lasts for 5-8 years if you take care of it properly. If someone has the dream, it can be done economically as well. It is an expensive sport but there is nothing that one can’t manage. There are not many sponsors as this is an up and coming sport in India. There are only a few companies which have come on board and shown interest in cash sponsorship.”
As discussed above, the ironman discipline of triathlon is not an Olympic sport but has still been gaining popularity in the country. Radkar, who is a former swimming national champion, revealed that he had taken up triathlon by chance. Being a long-distance swimmer saw him gaining interest in the Ironman triathlon as well. He completed his first race in Arizona in 2008 with an excellent timing of 11 hrs 41 mins and 36 secs, which was then the fastest debut for an Indian. After excelling as an athlete himself, he started mentoring and coaching emerging athletes in the category in 2010 and has now become a renowned coach in the country.
Meanwhile, he rues the fact that there is not a lot of support for the sport in India. In 2018, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had dropped all the four triathletes selected for the Asian Games on grounds of “misleading information” provided by the national federation prior to the Asiad.
“The unfortunate challenge in India is to get (federations and officials) to these people. I have written to the triathlon association or federation (Indian Triathlon Federation) run by the people who want to hold their posts. Level of coaches being hired by these people are not that good. If you read about the fiasco at the Asian Games that happened, they sent athletes who are not even qualified to take part in the event,” explained India’s first certified coach.
“There has to be a different approach and I am not sure what that approach is right now. I am working closely with the swimming federation right now and hoping that this will translate into the triathlon federation soon.”
Explaining the reason why he chose ironman triathlon ahead of the Olympics standard, the athlete informed, “Triathlon in the Olympics is different. As I grew up as a long distance swimmer, Ironman was like a better challenge for me. One has to graduate to the Ironman level and for that, the sprint triathlon and half ironman are more important. Young athletes don’t necessarily want to run in ironman because their strength is power and speed so they concentrate on sprint or Olympic events. But as you grow older your endurance picks up and you are much more patient so the older people are drawn towards the Ironman events.”
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