Our latest project focuses on motivational Iranian female figures. From entrepreneurs to designers and beyond, these women have managed to leave a lasting mark on the world. In a series of interviews we bring to you the details behind their stories of success.
An inline hockey player, snowboarder and speed skater, Maral was just a teenager when she first decided to become a pro athlete. At only seventeen, she joined Iran’s national speed skating team and in 2004 became the first Iranian female speed skater to compete abroad. Maral was a member of Iran’s inline hockey team between 2014 to 2016. She has won multiple medals in snowboarding and inline hockey. The multi-medal winner also coaches eager learners.
In an exclusive interview with The Tehran Times Maral tells us how important it is to be a determined go-getter, how far you need to push your limits and what it really takes to win big.
Maral Rasekhi – Photo credit: Pedram Soroush
How and when did you first know that you wanted to become a professional athlete?
I took up sports when I was ten. Later when I was 15 I won a skating competition in Tehran which further inspired me to take things to a professional level. The win was so thrilling that I just knew I had to experience it again and again.
How would you define a successful woman?
A woman who relentlessly chases her dreams: a successful woman wouldn’t let her surrounding conditions affect her decision making or distract her from achieving her goals.
As an athlete, what things inspire you in your career?
Every competition I win, every sport I try and all the new athletes whom I get to coach constantly inspire me to move forward. When you’re into sports you can’t actually say that there are any clear limits. You can’t set a certain time by which you will have to stop competing. You can keep on pushing your limits as long as you’re physically able.
Tell us about an ‘over the moon’ moment; a win which always lifts your spirits when you think back.
Well I have taken part in several competitions abroad but it was right here in Iran where I obtained one of my all-time greatest achievements. There was a boardercross competition named Darbandsar Grand Prize. Now I’m a freestyler but I took part in the competition anyhow. All my rivals were speed racers so the odds seemed to be against me. But I came in first place and snatched the gold medal and it felt twice as rewarding as other wins.
What are some of the greatest challenges that you’ve overcome down the path?
Taking up sports on a professional level is quite difficult no matter where you’re form. Achievements don’t come easy and you will have to give up on a lot of things you enjoy; this could be steering clear of some of the foods you love or choosing not to attend a party. All this has been challenging for me as well but nothing has stopped or discouraged me.
As a coach, how do you motivate learners and what advice do you have for those who see you as their idol?
I’m not a very gentle coach. I always tell my learners to be ambitious. They should never think that they’ve reached a limit. Whether it’s better health, a stronger body, or another win, they must make a fierce effort, go out there and get it. And to the readers: when it gets to sports dream big and never give up. Some would say that in general men are physically stronger than women.
In your field of work what is one thing about women you would say men can’t compete with?
I think women are better, smarter team players
.Maral and Enghelab skating academy inline Hockey team – Photo credit: Pedram Soroush
What are some of the foods that tempt you to ditch your diet?
Italian cuisine, specifically pasta and pizza; I just can’t look away and must have a nibble.
How would you get your laziest friend to exercise?
I’d put them in a direction where they would have the most fun. I’d suggest they take up a sport they really enjoy like skiing or skating or volleyball [not just to go to the gym].
What are your plans and hopes for the future?
Well I will definitely continue competing in championships for as long as I can. On the other hand, looking further into the future, I hope that at some point I can lead a team; I’d like to see them shine… and maybe later to head a division in Iran’s sports scene.
Maral Rasekhi – Photo credit: Pedram Soroush
To get to know more about Maral Follow her on Instagram
Neda Monem is a Tehran-based journalist, photographer and social media advisor. She covers arts, culture, society, tech and startups.