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On Monday, Aishwarya Pissay, a Bengaluru-based biker, created history by becoming the first Indian to win a world title in motorsports. She won the FIM World Cup in women’s category after she finished fourth in the final round in Varpalota, Hungary. Pissay finished with a tally of 65 points, four points ahead of Portugal’s Rita Vieira in the final overall standings for women. She also finished second in the FIM Junior category in which both women and men competed, falling short of 46 points behind the championship winner, Tomas de Gavardo of Chile. 

Image Source: Twitter/@misspissay

It is not only a moment of national HONOR as we receive the country’s first world title in motorsports but also that of a woman’s triumph over the stereotype that women are the weaker sex.

After her historic win, an overjoyed Aishwarya said, “It’s absolutely overwhelming. I am out of words. After what happened last year, my first international season, when I crashed in Spain Baja and suffered career-threatening injuries, to come out and win the championship, is a great feeling.” On recalling her major injuries that she suffered in 2017 and 2018, the now world champion said, “There was not even a single day in the hospital that I thought I won’t be able to race again. That incident taught me the importance of never giving up.

Past Achievements

Last year, Aishwarya became the first Indian female rider to compete in the Baja Aragon Rally. However, the rally ended prematurely as she ruptured her pancreas in a crash. In 2016, she competed in the prestigious Raid de Himalaya race. But when her brakes stopped working and her gear got stuck on second, she had to drop out of the competition only to return in 2017 with a promising comeback. She not only went on to win three national championship titles in 2017, but also mastered the Dakshin Dare, one of India’s biggest motoring races. Her impressive performance grabbed eyeballs as she was picked up by TVS Racing (the racing arm of TVS Motor Company). 

Success for Aishwarya did not come smoothly. In 2017, she suffered from a collarbone injury that required fixing using a steel plate and seven screws and doctors advised her to be off the track for another three to four weeks. But Aishwarya’s injuries did not break her determination as she revealed in an interview, “I had a race in just five days. Nothing was going to stop me. I got up and raced and won the championship.” 

Beginning of Bike Journey

Image Source: Economic Times

After meeting failure in her first race in February 2016, it was a turning point in Aishwarya’s life as she realized she needed to get more serious about her training. So, she asked coach Jeeva Reddy to train her and he agreed. The next day, she joined the gym and every weekend went to the track for practice.

After a disappointing performance in class XII exams, Aishwarya went on to live with her mother after her parents got divorced. That period was challenging for her as she had to work as well as study. She learnt to ride a bike on the many small trips around Bengaluru that her seniors took mostly on bikes during weekends.

Also read: Dutee Chand: A Sportswoman Who Broke All Barriers

Aishwarya bought her first bike, Duke 200 from her savings and started using it for her daily commute. She later went on to participate in MTV’s ‘Chase the Monsoon’, that took her on a path from the Rann of Kutch to Cherapunji for 24 days. She successfully completed her journey. The encouragement to take up bike racing seriously came from her friends, as Aishwarya recalled in an interview, “My friends told me that I should try out racing instead of wasting my life on the streets. After which I looked up racing schools and then found an apex racing academy and started training.

After meeting failure in her first race in February 2016, it was a turning point in Aishwarya’s life as she realized she needed to get more serious about her training. So, she asked coach Jeeva Reddy to train her and he agreed. The next day, she joined the gym and every weekend went to the track for practice. 

Sexism continues to plague the motorsports industry. While racing is still considered a gentleman’s sport, women are only seen as eye-candy. But times are changing as more and more women are taking part in races and changing the face of a male-dominated field.

Also read: 18 Indian Sportswomen Who Made A Difference In 2018

It is not only a moment of national honour as we receive the country’s first world title in motorsports but also that of a woman’s triumph over the stereotype that women are the weaker sex. Aishwarya’s win has proved to be a befitting response for those who advised her to get a degree and settle down. “Biking is no more a guy thing and why should it be a guy thing? It is just a machine with a gear and clutch and what’s so different about it? Anyone could do it!”, she quips.


Featured Image Source: Economic Times

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