How Aishwarya Pissay overcame a career threatening injury to become India’s first racing champion

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    Aishwarya Pissay became the first Indian to win a World Title in motorsports in 2019. She has had an impressive rise to the top in her young career. Hailing from Bangalore, the 24-year-old has redefined all odds to become one of the most famous names in female motorsport, not only in India but all around the world.

    Pissay signed a deal with IOS sports, a leading Indian sports management group on Thursday and is the latest entrant on a long list of athletes like Vijendra Singh and MC Mary Kom. Sports India Show’s Mario Fernandes had the opportunity to chat with Miss Aishwarya Pissay, where she spoke about her journey and expectations from the sport.

    How did the journey begin in motorsports in a country like India where sports is not given that important and the encouragement isn’t as much from parents?

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    My journey in motorsports started when I turned 18 after I got my license. However I think, about a few years ago, I started watching MotoGP on television, but I never imagined that I would be able to ride motorcycles.

    That was the first time I saw motorcycle racing. When I turned 18, it started as a weekend hobby. I started training with an acclaimed school called Apex Racing Academy in Bangalore. My journey started with them and in 2017, I signed with TVS Racing and that’s how my career took in terms of being able to participate, not only nationally, but internationally as well.

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    How was the support from your parents considering the lack of encouragement towards sports in India, let alone motorsports?

    My mother was definitely quite supportive of the idea. She never got a chance to explore a lot more things in her childhood, but she gave me the option to choose what I wanted to do. Education was definitely essential but they also gave me the room to do what I wanted to.

    What is the scope of expansion of motorsports in India as of now?

    I think any sport when we have Champions rising out of them, the sport grows. When we’re able to make a mark and represent India in world motorsport. The Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) has been training a lot of people at the grassroot level and helping a lot more motorsport enthusiasts to come in a lot more early and expanding the base for more athletes.

    At what age does the grassroot training begin for motorsport?

    There are a handful of kids from the age group of 8-15 who are racing currently and also join training academies. The larger group would be between 15-20 which has seen a lot more people coming in, including me.

    How have you dealt with accidents and injuries in your career in a dangerous sport like motorcycle racing?

    Well, injuries are inevitable, be it falling down the stairs or falling down a bike. Injuries have never really scared me. I’ve had a career-threatening injury when I broke my collar bone. In 2018, I had an accident and ruptured my pancreas which kept me in the hospital for a month.

    Aishwarya Pissay

    But, having the right team – TVS and my coaches, really helped me in recovery and achieving the goals after that. For example – In 2018, we had 8 months to plan what we wanted to do in 2019 and worked on recovery and went on to win the World Cup last year.

    How is the coaching process and the training different from a normal athlete?

    Training is 365 days. I spend 6-7 hours a day consisting of physical and mental training and riding the motorcycles in different terrains to increase the level of skill. 

    What would you say has been the toughest race/terrain in your career?

    I think that would definitely be the Hungarian Baja and that has been the most difficult race. All the off-road rallies do not have a definite track and happens in places where no people are living ( deserts, forests etc.). Each track is very different from each other. It actually puts the man, machine and the mind to test.

    “Racing actually puts the man, machine and the mind to test.”

    Where are the different places/tracks/academies in India where people can develop their motor racing skills?

    There are different forms of racing. My forte is road racing and rally. The main circuits for road racing are the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore,  Madras Motor Sports Club in Chennai and the Buddh International Circuit in Noida. There are a few training schools that facilitate riders to come and train and push their abilities to the next level.

    You were also part of a reality show called MTV Chase in 2013. How was that experience for you?

    The TV show was shot before I started racing. I used to travel a lot. We went from the Rann of Kutch to Cherrapunjee for 24 days. It was definitely a wonderful experience which i could never forget.

    How has the COVID – 19 pandemic affected the world of motorsports?

    It has definitely been hit a little. However, with the existing training regimen at home and since we can go and train in remote areas, it hasn’t taken a backseat. I have been constantly doing physical and mental training and even on the bike. It has been consistently going on.

    What advice would you have for young girls who would want to make a career in sports/ motorsports?

    For motorsports, in the last two years, TVS has come up with TVS Women’s One Make Championship, where women are selected all over India in February and March. They’re given the education as to how motorsport works with a one day workshop. The few selected are given more intensive training and a platform where they can race in the National Road Racing Championship which is of 5 rounds.

    For other sports, I would advise all the women who want to pursue sports to go ahead without any fear and achieve whatever they want to in life.

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