Athlete overcomes odds to compete

Athlete overcomes odds to compete

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Ajay Poonia had the support of a Kelmscott family when he competed in the Ironman 70.3 in Busselton.

A Kelmscott family travelled to Busselton at the beginning of this month to support a friend who took part in the Ironman 70.3 triathlon.

Held on May 7, it was the largest Ironman 70.3 event in the southern hemisphere attracting a number of athletes from around the world, including Ajay Poonia from India.

Kelmscott resident and Mr Poonia’s friend Aleisha Powell said it was amazing he came all the way from India to compete.

“He is my sister-in-law’s boyfriend,” she said.

“He came all the way from Delhi to compete.

“It’s quite an amazing story.”

Mr Poonia had faced numerous battles before he could compete in the Ironman 70.3.

He suffered injuries to his eyes during a game of football, which stopped him from pursuing a career in the sport.

In another accident Mr Poonia suffered burns to his legs, which limited his movements.

Mr Poonia said he could not even wear shoes because of his burns.

“I couldn’t do any physical activity,” he said.

“It was really frustrating and I started to put on weight.”

Mr Poonia said eventually his burns began to heal and although he could no longer play football he started to run.

“I started slowly,” he said.

“Then I built up my distance.”

Mr Poonia said he began to compete in triathlons in Delhi and around India.

He said when he found himself placing third place he realised it was something he wanted to take seriously.

“I was in the top three,” he said.

“At first I didn’t have the confidence to tackle Ironman but then I thought to myself, why not? I can do it.”

Mr Poonia began his Ironman 70.3 at 4am although he entered the water at 7.30am.

He said the weather, which started as cool and chilly, turned humid and hot.

“The run was sharp which made it difficult,” he said.

“But the bike section was very scenic and the surface was smooth and flat.

“It was a great day and I felt strong entering the run.

“I’d definitely do it again, even after I found there was a shark sighting, but luckily it was 10 minutes after I had finished swimming.”