My name is Priyanka Goswami and I am a 24-year-old 20 KM Racewalker from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. I currently live in Bengaluru where I practice. My family has always been extremely supportive of my decisions. In fact, my parents have always treated me and my brother as equals. They’ve encouraged us whole-heartedly to pursue our interests.
The first time I knew that racewalking was for me
When I was in sixth grade, a gymnastics trainer asked my class if someone wished to be a part of the team. Back then, I opted for it only for enjoyment. Honestly, I didn’t even know what gymnastics was all about. I practiced it for about six months and left due to the circumstances until ninth grade when I decided to enroll myself for athletics again.
Little did I know back then that this decision would change my life forever for good. There was a district-level competition being organized and for a month, I worked very hard on my fitness. However, as life would turn out, I couldn’t qualify for any of the categories.
That is when my coach told me to look into the category of Walking. I earned the third medal in Racewalking and that’s how my association with this unique sport started!
I have faced a lot of problems during my journey. Well, who doesn’t?
Almost 50% of India’s population doesn’t know anything about Racewalking. Some people even laugh at us and make jokes about the choice of sport. But I have always enjoyed it. Besides, I didn’t have all the facilities that I have today in my village and have still managed to come so far.
The major problem that we face is during periods.
We fear revealing it to anyone, including our coaches because we feel ashamed to do so. In spite of unbearable menstrual pain, we practice and sweat on the ground every day.
Once, I appeared for one of the national racewalking competitions while I was on my period. I was suffering from extreme stomach pain. I couldn’t even drink water. As soon as I finished the race, I ran towards my mother who was present there and broke down. But, in the end, it all felt worth it when I wore that gold medal around my neck.
How racewalking changed me
Being a sportsperson, we have to take care of our sleeping schedules, the food that we consume, and many other things. We have to take care of the quantity and the quality of food we eat to maintain the right weight.
I am the kind of person who likes to not only work hard for the game but also enjoy other things in life. I used to like wearing nice clothes, getting a photoshoot done and lead a more ‘normal’ life. But, for the past four-five months, I have sacrificed everything. I have not been going out or doing anything. I have been maintaining a strict sleep schedule. I have lost a lot of weight. Many people have told me that I look bad but my only focus is to be the best in the game. The rest might as well come chasing along.
A message for all the women out there
Women can also be equivalent to men but there are certain hardships that only women go through. So, women should be given certain facilities and moral support from not only families but the society as well. People should not make us feel like we are any less than men.
Besides, even women should not consider themselves to be weak. Believe in your journeys and yourselves. Stand strong in the face of hardships. Understand that it isn’t necessarily for you to always perform well. There have been times when I didn’t perform well and the ones who weren’t as good won. I certainly felt bad about it. But, I have always believed in God and my hard work. I have always tried to give my best in the game.