VSSC scientist proves his mettle in ‘Ironman’ test too

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Rahul Revikumar who completed the Ironman Triathlon held in Sweden; the medal he won.  

Rahul, who helped ready the GSLV for Chandrayaan II, completes gruelling triathlon in Sweden

It is not every day that an ISRO scientist gets to swim in the Baltic Sea. But then, you don’t straight away associate space scientists with something like the Ironman Triathlon either.

Rahul Revikumar, Scientist-E, Avionics (Quality Assurance), at ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) here at Thumba, forces you to reconsider such notions.

The 34-year-old who was part of the team which readied the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk-III for the Chandrayaan-II mission, recently completed the Ironman Triathlon held in the picturesque Swedish city of Kalmar on the Baltic coast.

Swim, cycle, run

Dubbed one of the toughest endurance sporting events that is completed in the course of a single day, the gruelling triathlon consists of a 3.8 km swim, 180.2 km cycling and 42.2 km run. All three have to be completed in 16 hours. The Ironman event is organised by the World Triathlon Corporation and the 2019 edition was held on August 17.

Participating in the 30-34 age group, he completed the event in 14.34 hours, bagging an overall rank of 1,939. “I competed in the amateur category. It is a really tough event. The 3.8-km swim has to be completed in 2.2 hours or less. The swim and the cycling component have to be completed in 10 hours. The swimming part was held in the Baltic Sea,” said Mr. Revikumar, who joined the VSSC nine years ago and lives at Karyavattom.

Mr. Revikumar was quality assurance engineer for Navigation Guidance and Control System for the GSLV Mk-III which bore the Chandrayaan-II spacecraft to earth orbit.

How it started

Interestingly, this ISRO staffer was not much of a sports buff growing up. As a boy, he had preferred music instead. But six years ago, he began jogging on the museum premises to stay fit. Then a colleague inspired him to run marathons. “The model Milind Soman popularised the Ironman events in India. That’s how I got to hear about it,” he said.

Swimming was his weak area, having grasped the basics only in 2010. For polishing his swimming skills, he obtained a membership at the SAI-LNCPE at Karyavattom. He also practised swimming in the sea at Kovalam under supervision. In 2017, he participated in the ‘Half Ironman’ held in Hyderabad and two ultra marathons organised in Wagamon.

Seeking sponsors

Mr. Revikumar retains beautiful memories of Kalmar, a small seaside city some 350 km from Stockholm.

“It was also my first visit to Europe. Kalmar had a holiday for the event and the people were very supportive,” he recalls. The ‘ironman’ is also on the lookout for sponsors as participation in these events is an expensive affair.

Mr. Revikumar is married to Nikhila, a software professional, and the couple has a son, Dhruv.

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