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“I won’t lie, it has been a tough journey,” she confesses, speaking of making waves in what has essentially been a male domain so far. “I didn’t realise it as a child, but I definitely realised it as I grew older and began pursuing a career as a sailor. I turned pro at 11, undeterred that sometimes I was the only girl sailing against men. I found it amusing when most men serving in the army and the navy felt angry when I beat them.”

Cut to 2014. Rau is a formidable bulwark in the nautical world, with 14 gold medals and five silver medals in national championships under her belt, together with two gold medals clinched at the Asian Games. Over the years she has represented India in many international events, including eight world championships.

Shilpi Madan for DNA

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