Steadfast Athlete and mountain biker Usha Khanal has once again etched her name in the chronicles of greatness, winning two gold medals at the 18th National Cross Country Championship and 10th National Downhill Championship at the MTB Nepal tournament and setting a new historical benchmark. She is the first athlete to win gold in two categories at the championship.
An ecstatic Usha poured out the feeling of adding this feat to her credit. “I was aiming for gold in XCO and when I bagged gold in both categories. I felt like I’m there where I never thought I would be. I feel really lucky to be called a double gold medalist and write history for the first time.”
The journey to success for Usha began when she gave up her job to pursue a career in mountain biking. She first got introduced to mountain biking in 2015 in Hattiban and was left in awe of bikers making heads turn with their riding skills.
“I was very active in sports from my school days but never knew cycling could be a sport and one could have a career. I saw a mountain bike race for the very first time in 2015 in Hattiban. My mouth was wide open when I saw them come down flying. That was a turning point in my life. I used to work at a Montessori school, but later, in 2017, I left my job to pursue a career in mountain biking. The major attraction about this sport is how it has allowed me to be free and made me travel places and know people.”
This relentless athlete began her mountain biking career as a mountain biking guide. Later, she became a professional mountain biking athlete. Talking about the issues faced in this journey, Usha said, “There were many issues and problems I faced during the beginning of my career. I started being a mountain bike guide first and an athlete later. Being a guide and interacting with different people from all over the world helped me get into this field pretty easily. But there were also many difficulties to face. It seems like a revolution in the family. Doing something nobody has ever done before was certainly very challenging. I didn’t know what and where to expect. Starting without any guidance and support, I feel proud of how far I’ve come on my own.”
Training hard as a professional athlete is her route to success and the secret behind her winning streak.
Usha trains for almost the whole year. She does extra training if races are coming up and rides and trains every day. She says she rides extra because her job is to ride mountain bikes and guide people. That’s how she sustains in this industry.
Usha has a ‘Never give up attitude’ and continues to climb the stairs to success one after another. It has famously been said, “Where there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Usha has had her share of struggles. She has successfully surmounted them and managed to prove her worth to the world.
“I believe everywhere is a struggle. Be it a boy or girl- unless someone is guiding how, when, and how to do it, one has to struggle. When I initially started my journey, I had many thoughts on whether I’m on the right path or not. Many times I had thoughts about quitting biking and going abroad to study and work. But something always stopped me. Deep down, I never wanted to leave my country. It has my whole heart. It’s the place where I was born and raised and seen so much. Being a female has helped me get into the limelight but also had many cons physically and mentally. I live in a country where women are expected to get married by their mid-20s and settle down. I was not exceptional in that case. I had lots of pressure from everywhere to get married. To avoid that, I used to be away from home most of the time. Now the time has come, when they understood what I was doing. It gives me immense pleasure to show everyone where I am today,” she said.
Champions are not born, they are made- mountain biker Usha Khanal built herself from a mountain biking guide to a champion athlete. She also talked about the preparation and sacrifices she made during her journey to scripting history.
Usha firmly believes every race is the outcome of good training, nutrition, recovery, and food. She was able to achieve all three and gave the events she participated in her all. Usha says the MTB Nepal win was a long-awaited title she was working for.
“There were always obstacles and situations coming. But winning two golds and making history in Nepal Mountain biking is a blessing that very rare people can get. I risked my XCO race as downhill (DHI) was a day earlier, and taking part in DHI meant taking risks as it is a bit of extreme discipline. But instead, I took this opportunity to warm up myself for the next day and make my body ready. It was fun doing both but I must say I took risky and daring steps there.” Usha said.
Usha thanks Steadfast Nutrition for fuelling her success with premium nutrition supplements that elevated her performance and recovery.
“Steadfast has played a vital role in my athletic life. The recovery and energy-boosting products have helped me in races quite a lot. Their wide range of products has me covered from morning to night. Steadfast supplements are must-haves for me while training and racing, Steadfast is my Secret Santa to help me fulfil my wish.”
Usha says she is a great fan of Steadfast not just because she’s their athlete but because it has its uniqueness. Her favourite supplements by Steadfast are the protein supplements Power Protein and HerbFast for recovery and Snergy for between workouts. The energy drink Snergy helped her during the national championship after every ride.
Usha is a lone warrior and cycles her way to success single-handedly. She also talked about what keeps her going.
“My self-motivation. I keep myself motivated and always want to see and prove myself better in the future. There are many obstacles and hardship at this moment which holds me down mentally and physically, but still, I try to collect myself and go towards my goal,” said Usha.
Her bike is her companion and her source of encouragement in her journey to success.
“The feeling of freedom I get when I ride my bike gets me going. The main source of encouragement comes from me. I encourage myself to ride my bike all the time and the dream I’ve in my head keeps me going.”
Usha is a motivation for young and aspiring mountain bikers. Her message to youngsters is that it’s not very hard to achieve anything- one just has to remember two words: Dedication and Patience.
“Focus on your goal, this isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes quite a lot from you and when it starts giving, you’ll be overwhelmed. Mountain biking has its uniqueness and happiness. Just don’t forget to enjoy the suffering and you’ll be there very soon. The starting is very exciting, but as it keeps on going, it might get boring as you don’t get what you thought you would get easily, but it’ll happen soon if you don’t stop digging,” says Usha.
Usha looks up to Swiss Female athlete Jolanda Neff, Olympic Gold Medalist for 2020.
The Steadfast Athlete is now busy training for the Asian Games, the World Championship, and the Asian Regional Championship.
Usha’s ultimate goal is to win a medal at the Olympics.
“It seems big, but who’d stop you from dreaming? I always remember only the sky is the limit,” she says.