Alisha Abdullah: Breaking stereotypes on the racetrack

A file photo of Indian racer Alisha Abdullah
A file photo of Indian racer Alisha Abdullah

Breaking stereotypes isn't new for Indian racer Alisha Abdullah. The ace Indian racer is the first female national champion in motorsports, a national car and bike racing champion and is also the first woman to be awarded the President's Award in motorsports.

Alisha Abdullah didn't have to look beyond her family for inspiration in making it big. Her father, Abdullah, was a seven-time national racing champion in India and she inherited his winning mentality, work ethic and talent with ease.

Alisha started accompanying her father to the racetracks ever since she was eight. She was quick to grasp the intricacies of the machines and formally started racing soon after and her first win came when she was just 10-years-old.

At 13, Alisha won the MRF National Go-Karting Championship and even won the Best Novice Award at the National level Formula Car Racing in the open class.

Ever since then, there has been no looking back for Alisha Abdullah. Innumerable podium finishes and laurels came her way as she started dominating the world of motorsport as the only female racer to be competing at the national level.

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Racing comes with its own perils. A biker hit Alisha Abdullah in the ankle and the racer was thrown out of action, needing surgery and facing a long road to recovery. Being confined to bed did not deter the racer as she fought adversities to get back on track and start racing again.

Speaking to Sportskeeda, Alisha Abdullah threw light on her rehab and said it was a tough phase, but finishing the race to be on the podium took all the pain away. She said:

"It was very painful and the rehab was even more painful. But winning on the podium with the guys was truly worth it. I got a lot of empathy from people, some people even asked me to stop racing because I was in bad pain, but I always love to prove people wrong and that’s why I’m here."

The very mention of the word motorsports is associated with men and Alisha Abdullah has done her part in proving a point that the sport isn't exclusive for men. However, with no female racers on the radar in the near future, the sport is threatening to become male-dominated once more.

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Throwing insights into it, Alisha Abdullah said:

"I don’t think I see women coming or making it big in motorsports. I mean I’m still the only woman who wins with the opposite gender till date. It’s been more than 15 years. I feel women should move their game up. We need more people like Mary Kom who are very level headed."

Alisha Abdullah's focus: women in motorsport

Alisha Abdullah knew merely winning on the race track wouldn't suffice to encourage more women to take up the sport. The Chennai-based racer knew she had to help more women start from scratch and started a racing academy for women - Alisha Abdullah Racing Academy.

The racing academy was aimed at creating more opportunities for women racers and spreading more knowledge on motorsport in India. The racer even abandoned her plans to race internationally and decided to help budding motorsport women enthusiasts to make it big. Speaking about the racing academy, Alisha said:

"The racing academy was initially only for women. However, now I also enroll men who can’t afford racing. I’ve done my part of participating in international races and I am also not keen to go international due to finances. However, I am looking to build more women to race internationally with men."

Alisha Abdullah has a simple message for women taking up the sport. She signs off by saying:

"Keep your feet on the ground and focus like a race horse. Build goals and make sure you achieve them and never give up!"

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Edited by Parimal
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