Rohini Rau has an appetite for life and refuses to be tucked into neat little boxes. She is 26 and a national women's sailing champion. She is on her way to becoming a doctor. She is also an active member of the world economic forums global shapers community.
Only the brave decide to tread uncharted waters and Rohini Rau has the stomach for risk, her confidence inspiring, her smile infectious and her zest for life admirable. India ’s number one women’s sailor began romancing the waves even before she could walk and she could swim like a fish in water. Rohini was part of the team that won India’s first gold medal at the Asian sailing championship in 2004. An 8 time national sailing champion in the Laser Radio Womens Class, Rohini has bagged 14 national gold medals, five national silver medals and two Asian gold medals. She has also represented India in eight international sailing championships.
Rau recalls that the whole excitement of doing something different and being out in the middle of the ocean on your own was so independent that it got her the most about the sport. Her first national championship was when she was 10 years old. She took part in the nationals in Mumbai. There were four girls who took part and she finished fourth. Nobody asked me out of how many boats, so she just proudly said "I finished fourth at the nationals", it was fun she added.
Ever since that fateful win, Rohini's parents began to harness her talent and fund her very expensive passion which runs into several lakh rupees in terms of investments a year. Fortunately the government has helped although the contribution is small. Finding trainers has been the other big challenge forcing Rohini to look outside India for help. While sailing is a serious passion, like a good Indian Rohini was clear, it could not be a career. So, as she decided to put herself to medical school. A final year medical student at the government medical college in Chennai, Rohini is keen to marry her love for medicines with sports.
"During that whole sports quota allocation period there was another boy who was desperately trying to get into medicine and he came fourth. I saw his face when he lost out on a medical seat. Ever since then I said, I don’t think I can ever give up the seat because I know there were so many other people dying to be in my sport. I think I am going to do really well, in the future. I plan to do sport medicines. So, I don’t look at sports as being a disadvantage to my career at this point", says Rau
With her career path chalked out, Rohini is also the trustee of a little theatre group started by her mother Ayesha Rau in 1991. It started as an initiative to promote theatre. It now helps students from economically weakened homes to get a private school education. Spending time with children who are hungry for opportunity keeps the fire burning in Rohini’s belly. It helps her in her role as a Young Global Shaper and initiative of the World Economic Forum.
Rau says, "I took a year and a half off from medicine even though I am studying in a government medical college. My mother managed to get a government order passed to get time off to campaign for the Olympic Games. I attended the World Championships and tried to qualify, but missed out by one spot. I probably would have gone into a semi depression if it wasn’t for this opportunity that I got with the World Economic Forum".
Rohini has also tried her hand at playback singing for a Tamil film, Three Roses. She set the big screen on fire when she was just 12 years. Bharatanatyam dancer and a pianist, Rohini made sure she always puts her best foot forward and stays in sync with her goal of qualifying for the Asian games in 2014 and completing her Olympic dream.