In a country where it’s hard to even being acknowledged as a sportsperson, 26-year-old Alisha Abdullah has not only made her mark, but also broken the stereotype that only men can be racers.
Abdullah, who hails from Chennai, is the daughter of racer R.A. Abdullah and has been participating at go-karting events since the age of 11.
Taking sound advice of her father, Alisha was winning all types of go-kart races by the age of 13 and even became the MRF National Go-Karting Championship at that age.
The awards didn’t end there and she went on winning the Best Novice Award in the national level Formula Car Racing in the open class.
She subsequently advanced to super bike racing when she was 15 and by 2004 was in the top five of the JK Tyre National Racing Championship.
Bike racing only further piqued her interest in the sport and she soon moved to super bike racing leaving behind the world of four-wheel racing.
Starting out on 100cc bikes by the age 16, Alisha was giving men of the same class a run for their money.
She not only finished her races ahead of many of them, but also was a frequent sight on the podium.
Unfortunately, in 2009, Alisha met with a horrible two-wheeler accident and she decide to give up her love for bikes and move back to four-wheelers.
She vowed never to race bikes again due to what happened. This is what she told TOI after the crash:
“In a completely male-dominated sport, I think I bruised quite a few men’s egos. They couldn’t stand a girl push past guys and many a time they deliberately hit my bike. Being a no-nonsense girl, I always fought back. But, the crash was the threshold. I didn’t want to race bikes any more, though I loved it.”
Though distraught about leaving her love for bike racing behind, she has since then come a long way in racing four-wheelers.
Just over a years after the accident, she made history when she became the first woman ever to make it to the podium in the Polo Cup 2011.
She was part of the Volkswagen India team. Abdullah has not only been improving with each year, but is now also in the process of building India’s all women racing team, and has even opened an academy called ‘All Women Bike Racing Academy’.
Teaser of my all women bike racing academy… All set to build India’s 1st a women racing team pic.twitter.com/YZi7aW7ocm
— Alisha abdullah (@alishaabdullah) 22 March 2016