One of India's top triathletes, Gujarat Pragnya Mohan is excited that the 36th National Games are being held in her home state and is hoping to win the highest accolade in her discipline.
A chartered accountant by education, Pragnya Mohan has in less than 10 years since taking up this gruelling sport emerged as one of India's leading triathletes.
Having put her chartered accountancy life on the back burner, the 27-year-old hopes to reinforce her status by bagging the brightest coloured medal at the 36th National Games, starting here on September 29.
Like all athletes, Pragnya is excited that the Games are taking place after seven long years. She is even more thrilled that they are taking place in her home state Gujarat.
"Having competed in a number of events across the country, I can say with pride that Gujarat has some of the best roads for cycling and running events," she was quoted as saying by the organisers in a release on Saturday.
Pragnya, in fact, is one of the few athletes who had taken part in the last edition of the Games in 2015. She had picked up gold in Women's Team and Mixed Team Relay silver too, but she was still an unhappy young lady.
"I had finished 10th in the individual event. I was disappointed since I had won the National Championships in Nashik in January 2014 and was expecting to be on the podium," she said.
Speaking about those Games, she said: "It was the first time that I was competing on cycling and running courses that was not entirely flat. I had the experience of swimming in a lake but the undulating terrain around the Kerala Agricultural University in Vellayani near the Kovalam beach was a revelation."
It didn't help that she was completing her internship as a Chartered Accountant at that time and couldn't devote enough time to train.
But now, she doesn't have any such concerns as she is completely focussed and is also familiar with the local terrain. "The Triathlon course in IIT Gandhinagar is not far from where I live. After I have done a recce, I believe I can come up with my personal best effort here," she said. "There is already some talk of an assured Gold for me, but I will focus only on delivering my best."
Back in 2015, she competed in a multi-discipline event for the first time. "It was a unique experience, and I watched some cycling and swimming. The build-up to the National Games was different from what we had known ahead of the National Triathlon Championships. There was a lot of encouragement by the Gujarat Government before and after the Games even then."
It is not just the familiarity with the environment but also her increased experience as a triathlete that gives her the confidence of being able to come up with a special performance. She won Gold in two successive South Asian Triathlon Championships in Pokhara, Nepal, in 2019 and this year she has learned a lot at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
"The sport has taught me that one must be consistent in training. My best performances have come only when I have trained for long spells. I see the results when I am dedicated to the sport over time. It does not work for me when I try and have intensive training over just a month or two," she said.
Pragyna Mohan has not allowed the chartered accountant in her to surface and is satisfied with pursuing Triathlon professionally.
"There is the Olympic dream to chase and if it means that I have to put my career as a CA on the back burner, so be it," she said. "I am sure I will crank up my performance and be able to draw adequate support."