Man from Aurangabad defied all odds to become the first visually impaired Indian to finish Ironman triathlon in Dubai which involved swimming, bicycling and running. The 38-year old Niket Dallal achieved the feat with the help of his sighted ally, Arham Shaikh, international media reported.
It was a first attempt at the Ironman 70.3 for both. The race comprises of a 1.9 km swim, 90 km bicycling and 21.1 km marathon that needs to be wrapped up in 8 hours without taking a break. Both of them completed the race in 7 hours and 44 minutes and scored the second position. For the race, the duo had trained rigorously at a Pune based coaching academy, called PowerPeaks Athlete Lab for four months wherein they trained for everything including their coordination. Both had won various small scale races before achieving big in the Dubai race.
For the first leg of the race, the duo was tethered together. According to the coach, swimming together like that for 1.9 km in the open seas amid other athletes while trying to keep the course was extremely challenging but with Dalal’s experience as a swimmer, they completed well within the cut off time. In the second round, Shaikh’s experience as an ultra cyclist proved to be an advantage. However, running in the soaring temperature for more than 20km wasn’t easy but owing to their training they crossed the finish line well before the time, media reported.
Speaking about his achievement, Dalal said that the first Indian who crossed the line of Ironman was in 2005 and till 2020 Indians did not have any differently-abled athlete who could complete the race. He added that he did it to bridge the 15-year gap. In future, he hopes to compete in the full Ironman challenge. The pair now aims to do the full Super Randonneur series, which means they will have to do a 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km Brevets (Long distance bike rides with time cut-offs) in a single year.