How long would you hold onto a dream, trying each day to realize it? For Ayesha Billimoria, the answer to that question is simple: as long as it takes.
Three-time 200-metre national champion, Olympic aspirant, sports trainer, model, TedX speaker, and now the author of Run! The Ultimate Mind-Body Fitness Guide–Ayesha wears many hats.
Today, we’re in conversation with her about perseverance in the face of impossible odds.
Q1: You’ve spoken about your bike accident in the 2000s which left you with partial paralysis. Can you tell us a little about your journey?
A: That journey has been long. But for what happened in that accident, I think I suffered for many years. I refuse to believe when they say that you can’t do this. Everyone said physically I was destroyed–nobody knew how strong my mind was. I am still trying out for the Olympics. It is probably the longest shot of my entire life. I had many ups and downs physically, but nothing broke me.
Q2: Athletes often talk about their endurance, but in your case it’s also perseverance because of your dream to be at the Olympics…
A: The dream keeps me going. I didn’t have a mentor for the initial years when I was getting destroyed in my head. Then when I met Gavin, it changed my life. That’s why I never give up. Even though sometimes the goal is highly ambitious and it may not be achievable, you don’t give up in the pursuit of getting there. Everyone has to have goals, I think goals are important. Because there is always something to look forward to if you have a goal.
Q3. Failure is often seen as the end, but you see it as a launch pad…
A: I feel like every setback is a set-up for success because when you fail you learn. And for me, my failures have taught me the most. So I want people to know that it is okay if you’ve had a bad day, it’s okay if you’ve broken your leg or your arm, or lost your kidney–you can still do something if you want to.
Q4. You’ve also spoken about the important role that the mind plays in fitness. Can you tell us a little more about it?
A: My coach in Australia taught me how the mind plays an important role in our training. In the face of threatening challenges, it is often mind over matter which gets us to go beyond our setbacks.