CHENNAI: Just the thought of entering a male bastion like racing can be nerve wracking for any woman. But not for R Chithra Priya - the spunky 27-year-old, who is the record holder for being the first woman biker in Asia to ride 1650 kms nonstop, for 24 hours.
"It was a grueling journey. I started on Christmas Day from Bengaluru and was sweating, and dehydrated by the time I reached Pune," she says. But that was only half the journey done, as she needed to return to Bangalore to achieve the feat.
Without a support team and nursing a twisted nerve in her back, she kept at it, reaching Bengaluru at 5.30 am the next morning.
For this feat, the Rotary Club of Madras Chenna Patna awarded her the Brave Heart Award in a function.
This is not Chithra's only claim to fame. She was also the first girl to race at the Irungattukottai track, and is currently among the top six bikers nationally.
"I love the feeling of breaking barriers of the mind in our society. I have had offers from biking groups in Pakistan and the USA, asking me to join them," she says.
Along with Chithra, another city girl was also recognised for her achievement in sports. Ranked number two in the world, squash player Anaka Alankamony is no ordinary engineering student. The first to win the Penang title twice and youngest to win the WISPA title at 15, she continues to break records and win titles.
Although she started to learn tennis at the age of six, she moved to squash to play indoors. After placing third in a district competition, there was no looking back.
"I feel touched by this recognition," says Anaka, referring to the Young Achiever citation conferred on her by the Rotary Club. The awards were presented by Rotarian Indra Subramniyam, in the presence of the president of the Rotary Club of Madras Chenna Patna..