Governance Now Visionary Talks Series

"Fitter, healthier people deal better with any kind of pollution"

Supermodel Milind Soman takes on other roles too: actor, film producer, fitness icon. He now completes marathons barefoot.

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | December 10, 2018 | Mumbai


#on a personal note   #model   #Milind Soman   #Pinkathon  
Photo: Vinay Dahiya
Photo: Vinay Dahiya

Supermodel Milind Soman takes on other roles too: actor, film producer, fitness icon. A competitive swimmer in school and college, Soman was a national champion and won a silver for India at the South Asian Federation Games in 1984. He now completes marathons barefoot. In 2015 he prevailed in the Ironman triathlon in Zurich, swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles, and running 26.22 miles in 15 hours and 19 minutes – a full hour and 41 minutes ahead of the 17-hour cut-off.  In 2017 he completed the body and mind crushing three-day Ultraman in Florida: a 6.2 mile swim and 92 miles of biking on the first day, 171 miles of biking on the second, and a 52.4 mile run on the third. He was 51 then, and was 41st in a field of 44. He holds the Limca record for a Greenathon, which involves completing 1,500 km in 30 days. He’s also the brand ambassador for Pinkathon, a marathon for women.

The book you are reading at present?

None.

Tell us about your transition from studying electrical engineering to becoming a supermodel, actor, producer and now a sports business person.
There has been no transition because I am still a student. I still model, act, produce and all those things, and I am sure there will be more yet. Life is a big place and I am an explorer.
 
You were an international level swimmer. Why did you give up competitive swimming?
I was seriously demotivated after I was not allowed to represent India at the 1986 Asian Games despite being a national champion. This was because of some bad people in the system. I stopped swimming competitively in 1988 while I was at my peak.
 
You have been a marathon runner for 16 years. Why do you run barefoot?
Being barefoot increases proprioception, which is the body’s way to sense and respond to the environment. I have found that being barefoot helps my body to understand the mechanics of movement vis-a-vis the running surface better and that helps my posture, balance and overall efficiency when I run.
 
You earlier said fitness has to be part of smart cities. How can the government promote sports and fitness in society?
Running is a natural activity that anyone can do to improve their quality of life including their physical, mental and emotional health. Indians at all levels of society and from every part of the country are now becoming part of the running community. All that will really take to help this health and fitness movement take off in a big way is for the government to build simple infrastructure for amateur and non-competitive running and cycling across as many towns and cities as possible.
 
As an avid runner, what are your views about the rising air pollution levels?
Every living creature needs clean air and water to live happily. A lot of the pollution in air and water comes from industrial and commercial activity. Above certain levels it is affecting even economic productivity with the rise in mental and physical sickness and disease in the workforce. That said, fitter, healthier people deal better with any kind of pollution.
 
How has the modelling industry changed over the years?
Models are of better quality today. Many Indian models today can walk anywhere in the world. I feel models today are fitter, better groomed and more aware of style than before.
 
In the wake of the #MeToo movement what are your views about rampant sexual exploitation of men in the fashion industry?
People must talk about it without fear. Maybe a welfare association might help: to support survivors and take predators to task.
 
What challenges you have faced in your work?
My own laziness and my lack of focus on long-term conventional success parameters of the media business such as popularity and market value. Perhaps my complacence and satisfaction with what I am doing at any given point in time.
 
Governance issues that matter most to you?
Safety of women.

What’s the major challenge India is facing today?
Misinformation.
 
Have you been at the receiving end of misgovernance?
I answered that...my not being selected for the 1986 Asiad in Seoul.
 
What is the greatest influence on your life?
My mother and Edgar Rice Burroughs, his stories of Tarzan.
 
Your message to aspiring models?
Know your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest. Work hard.
 
 

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