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Women are made of steel, they say. Their mental and emotional resilience can move mountains (literally), and their indomitable spirit can inspire an entire cult. Well, let’s just say that has happened in the case of a British-Sikh army physiotherapist Captain Preet Chandi, who has scripted history to become the first Indian-origin woman to complete a solo expedition across Antarctica.
The heroic woman, also known as Polar Preet, dons several hats — that of a Nordic skier, ultra-marathon runner, and endurance athlete. She trekked 700 miles solo and unsupported in 40 days, after having faced harsh temperatures of -45 degrees celsius and poor visibility, to get to her destination.
Through a social media post, she announced, “I made it to the South Pole where it’s snowing. Feeling so many emotions right now… it feels so surreal to finally be here.” Check out her post right here!
Antarctica is the coldest, highest, driest and windiest continent on Earth, and these factors attracted Chandi.
Besides that, she shares on her website, “There are only a few female adventurers that have completed a solo, unsupported trek on this continent. It is time to add some more names, diversity and to make history.”
Did you know that Captain Chandi underwent rigorous training to bring her dreams to life. From pulling a tyre on the streets of Derby to living in Greenland to acclimatize to harsh weather conditions, she left no stone unturned in her preparation.
She had earlier said that she didn’t have much idea about Antarctica, and that is what inspired her to take up this challenge. Chandi spent close to two-and-a-half years preparing for the feat. This included crevasse training in the French Alps and trekking in Iceland.
While on her adventure, she traveled an average of 17 miles every day, and made use of specialist communications equipment to keep in touch with her family and loved ones.
As per media reports, Captain Chandi hauled a pulk or sledge which weighed nearly 90 kg and held her kit, fuel, and food.
But was her motivation only limited to this feat? The answer is NO. Here’s what she wrote in a social media post.
“This expedition was always about so much more than me. I want to encourage people to push their boundaries and to believe in themselves, and I want you to be able to do it without being labeled a rebel. I have been told no on many occasions and told to ‘just do the normal thing’, but we create our own normal,” Chandi wrote.
“You are capable of anything you want. No matter where you are from or where your start line is, everybody starts somewhere. I don’t want to just break the glass ceiling, I want to smash it into a million pieces,” she went on.
On several occasions in the past, Captain Chandi has spoken about how she has always wanted to break stereotypes as an Asian woman. A non-conformist, she believes that this is dedicated to those women who do not fit a certain image.
This is something that she has established from the very start of her career. Chandi joined the army at the age of 19, and has also completed the Marathon des Sables, a 156-mile race across the Sahara Desert.
In an earlier interview with a leading media publication, she said, “I hope it makes other people from an Asian background get outdoors and try new things, which can be hard to do when it is so far out of your comfort zone.”
Being a role model to others is something that was always on her mind.
On her website, Polar Preet writes, “I want my 8-year-old niece to grow up without boundaries, knowing the possibilities of what you can achieve in life are endless. This journey aims to inspire future generations in achieving whatever they desire and pushing boundaries. By promoting and completing this challenge, it allows me to act as a role model to young people, women and those from ethnic backgrounds.”