Profiling Asia’s Youngest Female Iron Man: Ravija Singal

At just 19 years of age, psychology major Ravija Singal became Asia’s youngest Female Iron Man. Now, 21, she shares a bit about her life and incredible journey with us. 

Ravija Singal
Ironman is a triathlon with 3.8 km swimming 180 km cycling and 42.2 km running with a cut off time of 17 hours. Ravija completed the competition in 16 hours 5 minutes 45 seconds.

What made you pursue this sport?

I was 6 months old when my parents first took me to a swimming pool and 3 years old when I learnt to swim. Since then, I competitively swam in various state and national level events in short course races as I was in the 6th grade. but after my all India university games in 2017, I was a little bored of swimming. I wanted something a little different. Something a little more adventurous. That’s when the idea of triathlons came to me and my gym trainer. We looked into it and found there were only a few girls who ever ventured into triathlons. That’s when I thought, ‘Let’s do this. Maybe this is the adventure I am looking for.’ And that was the beginning of the Ironman journey for me, somewhere around the tail end of 2017.

What is your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from small things. My parents are really hard-working officials and my father has always been a sports enthusiast. For as long as I can remember I have been into sports. The people around me; my family, my friends and my coaches have always been there for me, serving as inspiration and guiding me, standing by me and my choices every step of the way. If someone has inspired me outside my circle, it is Michael Phelps. He never let anyone but himself and his achievements define him, and that is something I strive to do too. I think everything in your life will inspire you if you have passion for what you are doing.

How has your journey been so far? 

Honestly, my journey is just a result of all the opportunities I received – and saying yes to them. The support of my parents, coaches and friends has been my guiding light. At the end of 2017, I started training for the Ironman Triathlon. Though I was a national level swimmer, the competition is also a 226KM race, and running and cycling were a whole different ball game for me. I had to train twice as hard, 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. My bones ached. I knew of hard work and sacrifice as a swimmer, but a triathlon demands far more. I was up working out at anytime between 1 to 4 am around the year. I’ve cycled in heat as high as 35 degrees and run when it was raining like hell in shoes filled with water. It hasn’t been an easy journey, especially as a teenager who just wants to be a girl sometimes and not have such a muscular physique, or be so tanned.

Even after all my hard work, I failed in my first attempt at the Ironman in August 2018, losing by 5 minutes, which is crazy because on a daily basis 5 minutes don’t matter, but those 5 minutes made a world of a difference for me in that moment.

I tried again with all my might, and in December 2018, I became an Ironman in Busselton Australia, after  a year of early mornings and late nights, cold waters and the blaring hot sun. The Ironman was my Everest, and conquering it has made me feel that there is nothing impossible for me.

Ravija Singal

Did you think you make it this far?

At first, I knew I was the only one who could try it. I always think of things in my perspective. I’m never in a competition with anyone but myself. Even when I swam, I always thought of how could I become better? How could I clock a faster time? Never did I think of whom I could beat. I only strive to be a better version of myself.

Ironman was something I wanted to do and I knew there was a chance of failure, but I also knew I couldn’t let that failure define me. I never knew if I could win but I knew I could keep trying until I stopped failing.

 How did you practice for the Ironman Triathlon?

It was hectic, time-consuming and exhausting. I started with 6 sessions a week, 2 at the gym and 4 for land training that would range from 3-5 hours with combinations of swimming, cycling and running. Later it changed to 5 days a week because the 3-day land training was 5-9 hours and 2 sessions a week at the gym. I felt soreness in muscles which I didn’t even know existed!

I had to follow protein-rich diets and eat food without the salt. My life was a cycle of early mornings and late nights. I never took any breaks except for when I had my monthly cycle, so it was pretty harsh. But hey, all’s well that ends well, right?

How was your experience, sharing your practice sessions with your father?

We had an age gap, so of course, we fought at times, but we were competing and complementing each other all the way. He was a runner and a cyclist and had done the Deccan Cliffhanger recently, so he taught me those skills while I taught him swimming. It was fun!

What was the feeling when you shared your title with your father?

It was the most magical moment of my life. When I finished the race in Australia, my parents were in India. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I went to the back and just stopped. It was slowly sinking in that I had achieved my dream of becoming an Ironman with my father. Of standing on the same podium.

It was the first time I cried tears of joy. My body was exhausted, I had scars and bruises everywhere due to the race, but I felt they were trophies of my the battle. Of my victory. It has been the defining moment of my life; a 19-year-old crossing a finish line with the tricolour on her shoulders. 

With the Dream achieved, what is your goal?

I’m only 21, so I haven’t really thought of where my journey will end. The sky is the limit. I’m only looking for happy beginnings and my dream is to keep conquering every Everest life throws my way.

One thought on “Profiling Asia’s Youngest Female Iron Man: Ravija Singal

  • April 24, 2021 at 12:39 am

    IRONMAN TRIATHLON is not just another sport, it requires an indomitable will over the intense physical training. The dedication, enthusiasm and insight are really inspiring. Athletes like Ravija, don’t just bring laurels to the nation ?? but inspire so many people across the globe. Loved every bit of her journey through this article. Looking forward to more of such legendary content.


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