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Mansi Khandelwal

IWB Blogger

India’s 1st Standup Paddler Tanvi On How Her Grandma Waved Off The Social Stigmas In Her Race

  • IWB Post
  •  June 8, 2018

The tide was roaring tall at an uninvited little guest. An eight-year-old, who was daydreaming about riding the waves at her home beach Mangaluru. That eight-year-old was Tanvi Jagadish. She didn’t know how to swim and suffered from light asthma.

In just nine years, Tanvi would conquer the waves of both Indian and International waters. Today, Tanvi has become India’s first professional standup paddle racer.

Tanvi, who has turned 17 this year, began her surfing journey at 14 at the Mantra Surfing Club, where she was brought by her grandfather. Of late she has participated in the under-17 category at the West Marine Carolina Cup 2017.

Ocean addict as she likes to call herself, Tanvi feels that after Dangal and Mary Kom, a Bollywood movie on surfing can help advertise and promote the sport further. Excerpts from a chat:

Stand up paddling

How does a normal day for a Standup Paddler look like? Walk us through your routine?

My day begins quite early. I get up in the morning at around 4 am, drink Chia seeds, and meditate and do yoga till 6 am. I then go surfing from 8 am to 11 am. I spend my afternoons in college.

How do you stay in shape when you are off the waters?

Cross fitness is my drug to staying healthy.

What is your diet like? What does your power breakfast include?

Haha! A lot of homemade stuff is what infuses power in me.  I get up in the morning, drink Chia seeds then eat homemade til ladoo. Before I begin to surf, I eat a banana and ragi malt. Post surfing I eat one homemade protein bar and sprouts for my breakfast. In the evening, I drink a Mango smoothie before I do the cross fitness and again eat sprouts for dinner.

Stand up paddling

How do you manage your academics and the sport together?

I do it all with the support of my parents and brother. Also, I believe when one wants to do something with all their heart and will, no matter what comes their way, their zeal will help them deal with it.

What are some of your recent achievements?

2015 SUP Nationals Covelong Point Surf Classic (first place)
2016 SUP Nationals Manapad Classic Surf and Sail Festival (first place)
2016 SUP Nationals Indian Open of Surfing (Presented by Karnataka Tourism) (first place)
2016 Surfing Nationals Indian Open of Surfing (third place)

Why did you choose standup paddling and not any other form?

Surfing, Standup Paddling was never a girl’s sport in our country. Even now, the situation hasn’t changed much. But since I have always loved my connection with Mother Ocean, I decided to be the change I wished to see. I want to prove that even girls are good at standup paddling in India.

What was the most nerve-wracking moment at your first international competition?

I couldn’t perform well at my first international competition and that feeling of failing was nerve-wreaking. But I mustered courage when my brother told me that I needed more training and sometimes it is extremely important to accept the failure, to grow further!

Stand up paddling

Standup paddling is not quite a mainstream sport in our country. Were you ever reminded that you are a girl in a male-dominated sport?

Yes, I was often reminded that I was a girl. My parents feared me being tanned. Society didn’t appreciate me wearing shorts or swimsuits and going into the water. It was a tough fight then…

I read that your granny said yes to your sport when you thought your parents wouldn’t agree. Tell us how she motivates you to make greater waves and those words by her that you can never forget.

I was introduced to surfing when I was 8-years-old. But it took me some good six years to convince my parents and thus, I began surfing at 14. I always knew that my parents would be scared of the fact that I would go to the ocean but I always remained very patient about explaining to them how much I loved the sport.

In this journey, my grandmom has been my constant support. She has always taught me to never give up and always pursue with complete passion what I love.

Stand up paddling

How do you think we can encourage more girls to take up standup paddling?

I think by conducting free workshops, we can spread the word and also encourage girls to take up standup paddling. And yes, media, of course, can be of great help.

What is your mantra to overcome fears?

Initially, when I began, I used to get scared quite often. But now, over the years I have become fearless. My brother has always told me to have fun when I train, and that is my mantra!

I used to suffer from light asthma and did not know swimming when standup paddling was all over my mind. But today, I can proudly call myself a water baby and my asthma has just vanished.

Stand up paddling

What is your relationship with nature? How do you rediscover nature through your sport?

I have a great connection with nature from a very young age. As a kid, I used to go to the beach every Sunday. On days my dad failed to take me to the beach, I used to get so angry with him. I have a very divine relationship with the ocean. When I am in the ocean, surfing and standup paddling, I feel I am soaked in it completely. I feel I am blessed by the sunshine and the clouds smile at me and sometimes even, give a shade to me.

Talking about nature, what are those things about ocean pollution you want people to take a note of?

Everyone should keep the ocean clean. People staying near the water bodies should never throw the waste into the water.

Stand up paddling

When you are in the water, what are the thoughts on your mind?

Ohh that moment is inexplicable. I am in the heaven and it is the best feeling in the world. I try to make the most of it.

Share with us one friendship that you’ve made at a competition that still goes strong.

I only have a few friends. Over the years I have realized that brave choices come with certain conditions, and they might not be favorable all the time. When I began surfing, not many people were supportive of my choice. My mantra surf club family, where I train, are my best friends.

Stand up paddling

Being an international sportsperson at such a young age, how do you think Indian teenagers should see competition, in any sphere of their lives?

Everyone who is competing should train hard and age should never be a constraint. Teenagers need to believe that even luck needs hard work.

Tell us about your bond with your trainer? What is that one habit you always get scolded for while training?

My trainer is like my brother. He has never scolded me. In fact, he has always been very patient with me. I have learned from him to be calm and composed.

This article was first published on October 16, 2017.

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