Ask a youngster turning 18 what s/he wants as a birthday gift and they will most probably say ‘an expensive iPhone’, or ‘an Xbox’ or ‘a really fast sports bike’. You rarely come across youngsters who would like to have an experience where they can challenge themselves and their capacities to attain new heights in life. Megh Thakar, a Pune-based First Year student, is one of those few who requested his father to allow him to participate in the esteemed full Ironman Triathlon in Louisville, USA, for his 18th birthday.
Claimed to be the youngest Indian to have completed the full Ironman Triathlon by finishing at 13:53:20 on October 14, Thakar says, “The best feeling was that I completed the full Ironman on the day I turned 18 — which are two milestones in one go.”
Thakar, who has been swimming from a very young age, wanted to participate in the event which challenges your stamina and mind. “I had a long break right after Std XII — between entrance exams and the commencement of college — and I just did not want to waste my time,” says Thakar because of which he made sure he engaged himself in running and swimming and kept himself fit.
He explains that his constant interest in fitness was one of the reasons he wanted to participate in the full Ironman event. But he also had to do a lot of hard work and stay dedicated to achieve his dream. Right from waking up at 4 am to going for regular workout sessions which included core strengthening and stamina building, he put in hours and hours of practice.
Other than physical training, Thakar says that making a lifestyle change and consuming energy rich foods also helped him. “I chose not to have any protein powders or supplements but decided to go the natural way and it turned out to be beneficial,” he says adding that his training and dietary guidelines were taken care of by his father Vidur Thakar.
But getting there was not easy. Thakar points out that there were numerous hurdles while he was training. “Since I started training in monsoon I found it difficult to find proper infrastructure. Though swimming and running can be managed indoors, cycling was difficult because of the state of roads in the city and the fact that there are no proper cycling tracks here,” but he says that it did not stop him from achieving his dream. He kept pushing hard through the hurdles till he was happy and content with his training and performance.
It is often said that one must use their strong points to their advantage. Keeping this in mind, Thakar points out that his aim was to perform better at the swimming segment, so that it could improve his timing for the overall competition and the strategy worked. “To be honest, I did not participate in the full Ironman to win it but to complete it,” says the youngster.
Ask him about his plans of participating in Ironman events in the future and he says, “I still have a long way to go. What I know for sure is that I will definitely be taking part in full Ironman competitions because they are manageable with studies and college, and are comparatively simple.”
He is ecstatic about his achievement but Thakar says that he will be more than happy if he is able to encourage at least a few youngsters to take the path of fitness and pay attention and take care of their health. “What makes me happy these days is the fact that people in Pune are making it a point to participate in marathons. It does not matter whether they are amateur runners, what their age is or whether they win or not, they at least get through the finish line which boosts their confidence and pushes them to better themselves,” Thakar adds.
His father is extremely proud of his feat and like him, his dad too is happy that more and more Indians are taking up fitness. Says the senior Thakar, “A good thing today is that there is increasing awareness when it comes to physical fitness amongst Indians and more and more people are adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking part in marathons which are growing in number as well.”