Kiran Khan is an Olympic gold medalist swimmer, swimming coach and fitness trainer. She has represented Pakistan on various platforms, winning 73 medals in international competitions in total. She is also the youngest recipient of Tamgha e Imtiaz.
Kiran Khan shares her journey with Us …
Why did you choose swimming as your profession and how did it all start? Did anyone influence you?
I never chose swimming as my career. One can’t make a living out of it since it’s not a popular sport that would get sponsors. My father just wanted to teach me swimming; I began to enjoy it so much that I decided to participate in a competition. The win fueled my passion to compete and represent my country and there was no turning back.
What’s your first swimming memory?
I was three and I was scared of water and at the same time it fascinated me. I was playing with my toys on the side of a pool and I was watching my father and brother swimming. But I could not swim then.
Favourite coaches and sportsperson?
I love my father’s coaching style. He can sense talent in a person; his words might be brutal but they are always correct 200 per cent. And after my father, I am inspired by coach Bob Bowen and players Stephanie Rice, Katie Ledecky and Serena Williams.
What is your favourite swimming moment?
It’s hard to choose one! I think every time I swim for Pakistan is my favourite moment. Swimming for your country is what an athlete wants.
What is your training schedule like?
Every swimmer has a different routine depending on their race and fitness level. For me, it’s pretty normal. After breakfast, I go for swimming and gym. It’s never the same every day which is exciting for me because it’s a surprise. Six to seven hours of my day are totally dedicated to swimming and nothing else.
What goals do you want to achieve in your career?
I think, Alhamdolilah, I have achieved what I wanted to; I have proven my worth over and over to people who rolled their eyes. I wanted to win medals for Pakistan, I did. I wanted to become the national champion and got my wish. And I have all the awards and honours that I never dreamt of, so I think I’m satisfied for what I have done. :)
What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in your career?
I think when we train in camps for months, away from home – that is the biggest sacrifice. Everything pays off in the end, obviously, but no one wants to stay away from friends and family, not socialising for a good three to six months. Plus, the training is just so intense; your built changes, your look changes.
A fear or professional challenge that keeps you up at night?
I’m not afraid of challenges. I don’t let anything get to me; I’m very headstrong that way, so it has to kill me to get to me.
Name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your profession.
Every one around you is waiting for you to make a mistake and they will pull you down. Never rely on anyone; no one is your supporter, no one is your friend, no one is going to feel happy for you. It’s just you in the game and that’s it!
What was the best piece of advice you were given when you were starting out? And by whom?
No one gave me any advice at that age; I don’t think I even remember any happy face around me.
What do you do to keep going during tough times?
If there is any problem, I tackle it myself. I also believe in the power of prayers. When Allah is with you, your “problem” could be a test.
Advice for young girls who would like to venture into this sport?
We need to find a way to keep girls involved in sports.
The first thing is your competitiveness and mindset. I think that’s the most important part of being in this game. How do they approach their sport? There will be lots of ups and downs; are they ready to face it?