There are swimmers and then there are SWIMMERS. 12-year-old Ilham Aman Khan falls in the latter category. Armed with a passion for swimming and athletics, she won the Group Champion award (in the under 12 category) at the Palmolive Sindh Women’s Championship 2017 and is also winner of the Best Athlete award (under 12) in the Karachi Athletic League.
What does it take to reach this point so early in life? We, at ChalkTalk, spoke to Ilham and this is what she had to say:
Q. What’s your first memory of a swimming pool?
A. I started swimming when I was five years old, maybe even younger. I remember my father teaching me how to kick in the pool at Karachi Boat Club.
Q. Were you the proverbial duck when you were first put in the water or did it take time to grow comfortable in it?
A. No, I really wasn’t. It took me a while to get used to it since I was scared of drowning!
Q. Do you come from a history or family of competitive swimmers?
A. Yes, my older siblings are all great swimmers.
Q. At what age did you compete in a swimming meet for the first time?
A. My first swimming meet was at the Karachi Boat Club gala at the age of five or six.
Q. Tell us about some of your latest accomplishments in swimming and athletics?
A. My most recent accomplishment was the Palmolive Sindh Women’s Championship 2017 in which I won 8 gold and 1 silver and broke 6 records. Also, I was awarded the Group Champion in the under 12 category. In Junior Nationals I won 5 gold medals. In the Karachi Athletic League I won the award for Best Athlete in the under 12 category. And I was awarded Junior Viktress in my school recently. So 2017 has been a great year for me!
Q. How does it feel to be competing for the National Swimming Championship?
A. I feel honoured to be representing my province in the Nationals. And I’m so glad my hard work paid off!
Q. Where do you receive your swimming and athletics coaching?
A. I receive my swimming coaching at Karachi Gymkhana and the National Sailing Club (NSC) under the guidance of Sir Zameer. And I train for athletics at home.
Q. As a child did you ever think you’d be a trophy winner for your province?
A. I never thought about winning at this level at all, especially with such skilful competitors. I simply enjoyed the sport but my parents and coaches recognised my talent and helped me hone it further.
Q. Which other sports do you enjoy and which ones do you pursue competitively?
A. I like playing throwball, basketball and netball. I represent my house in school for the throwball and basketball teams.
Q. What are you currently training for?
A. I am currently training for the National Team trials to be held in April for the 2018 Asian Games which will be held in Jakarta in August 2018.
Q. How difficult is it to maintain a balance between sports and academic requirements?
A. It is very difficult to maintain a balance between academics and sports as training takes up a lot of my time and I don’t get enough time to study. But my parents and teachers are supportive and allow me to pursue my passion.
Q. How do your parents support you in your sports endeavours?
A. My parents encourage me a lot in my sporting endeavours and are always there to support me when I’m tired and feel like giving up.
Q. Does your school support sports and other extracurricular activities?
Q. Yes! We have a number of clubs and it is mandatory for all students to take part in one every Monday after school.
Q. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A. Just the usual…I watch Netflix and love chatting and hanging out with my friends. I l also love doing art and drawing.
Q. We know fitness is obviously part of the daily routine for a competitive athlete. What about diet? Do you have to follow a particular regimen?
A. Not really, however, before a competition I always eat healthy, nutritious meals.
Q. What would you like to say to students and parents out there, especially those who have a passion they wish to pursue – be it in sports, music, theatre or any other category?
A. I would like to say that if you ever give up a passion you love simply because you think someone is better than you are, then you won’t get anywhere. Keep TRYING, Work HARD and show them who you are!