Feature Articles


October 8, 2022

Most siblings remember friendly childhood challenges like, “I will race you to school” or “Catch me if you can.” But this brother and sister from Mysuru take that friendly competition to the next level by participating in Triathlons, an endurance sport where one has to Swim, Cycle and Run long distances.

Born to Dr. M.S. Prasad and Prabha Prasad, siblings Prajwal and Pragna say that it means a lot to have a family member while taking on tough tasks. While Prajwal is a BE Mechanical graduate from the National Institute of Engineering (NIE) and runs his own business, his sister Pragna is a medical student at A.J. Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Mangaluru. Prajwal and Pragna have both completed Ironman Triathlon events in Australia, New Zealand, Italy and India, a rare achievement. In this exclusive interview with Star of Mysore, Prajwal and Pragna spoke about their love for Triathlons and how it helps to have a sibling together in pursuing a goal. 

By B.C. Thimmaiah

Star of Mysore (SOM): Who introduced you to the sport?

Prajwal: My friend Ajit Tandur. He was not doing Triathlons per se but he used to run marathons, cycle and also swim. One day we just thought why not try the Triathlon style where you swim, cycle and run, one after the other.

So we would swim in the Sports Club, then cycle around Chamundi Hill and then run around the Race Course. We loved it. Then as we felt more confident, we decided to register for the 2014 Ironman 70.3, a Triathlon event in Australia. Unfortunately, Ajit could not come, so I went alone. To my surprise, I managed to complete the event which was a very encouraging start.

Pragna: I was into individual sports like swimming and running. I did not know what Triathlon was until Prajwal started and registered for Ironman 70.3. That’s when I felt I too should try it.

Pragna carrying the Indian flag after completing the event.

SOM: Triathlon is not well-known in India. Is that changing?

Prajwal: You are right but it is becoming popular now. We have a lot of runners and a lot of cyclers but Triathlon requires swimming also. In India, swimming is not to that level compared to Europe or Australia.  People here are still hesitant to swim in open waters. But the sport is catching up. If you see in 2019, just before COVID, there were five people from Mysuru who finished the Goa Ironman and they were featured in Star of Mysore. This time around, I think there are over 30 people from Mysuru participating in the Goa Ironman 70.3.

SOM: Is Triathlon an expensive sport?

Prajwal: Yes, it is an expensive sport because of the equipment and training time. The training and preparation needed to tackle the challenge is a mammoth task that will burn a hole in your pocket.

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SOM:  When did you both decide to team up for the Ironman challenge?

Pragna: We did not decide to take on the Ironman challenge as a sibling thing. I started training when I saw Prajwal training for this event. I think we decided to participate together after we took part in the Australia Ironman 140.6 event. Till then it was nothing like a brother-sister team.

SOM: How do you balance training schedules and your profession or academics? 

Pragna: Many people say that if you are in the medical field, you can’t make time for other activities, but I have had no problem. It’s a balancing act, but it can be achieved if you truly love that activity and know how to schedule your time.

Prajwal:  I too don’t have much problem balancing the two. I like my day to be packed and so I start my day early at 5.30 am and my training from 6 am till about 8 am. Then I’m at work from 10 am to 5.30 pm after which I hit the gym for about an hour and a half. It is important how you manage time. If you have the passion, you will find a way to do it.

SOM: Did you have the opportunity to train with other international teams?

Prajwal: When I visited Australia in 2014, I trained with many of the teams and Triathlon groups there. My coach was in Australia and I stayed with him and I trained with one of the top teams in Brisbane. It was a good learning experience and I was just 19 at that time. Right now, my coach is Subramani Venkatesh and he is in the US. Pragna on the other hand trains on her own.

SOM: Can you talk about your diet and nutrition. 

Prajwal: We both are vegetarians. Actually, I don’t face any issues with the diet as I am staying with my parents. My sister on the other hand has it tough as she stays alone in Mangaluru, so she has to cook, train and study.

Pragna: Yes, it has been a little difficult for me and whatever diet and nutrition plan I follow, the entire credit goes to my mother. My mother was an athlete herself and she knows how important a consistent nutritious meal is for an athlete. She often sends dry fruit powders and stamina-building food to Mangaluru in the bus. She does whatever best she can do and I am really grateful.

Prajwal riding cycle as part of a Triathlon event in Italy.

SOM: How is it to spend thousands of miles on the road together?

Pragna: It is absolutely amazing for me to have my brother, Prajwal, enjoying the same sport I do. Not only is it fun to plan, train and compete but we also motivate each other.

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During our first Full-Ironman, after about 90 kilometres I was close to giving up and I kind of passed out on the road.  I remember telling my brother, who stopped to get me water and make sure I was ok, that I wanted to quit and go back home, but he gave me a pep talk. After that for the next 90 kms, he just stuck with me, pushed me to stay in the competition and we completed the race. It was exhilarating.

Prajwal: One main thing is that when you are feeling demotivated or you are not in a mood to train, it helps tremendously if there is someone who can goad you to keep moving. So, it is a good thing to have someone in the family with you, who knows you.

SOM: This sport, is as much a mental challenge as well as physical.

Prajwal: I would say it is 30 percent physical and 70 percent mental. Initially your physical endurance is tested as you feel extreme discomfort leading to pain and fatigue; at this point you will feel like stopping. You will find yourself asking, “why did I sign-up for the event?”  or “Let me just quit.” In such a situation you need a strong mind to push your body and kickstart    that spirit to complete the race.

Pragna: In Triathlon when we swim, we do it alone, cycling also you do it alone. You can’t ride in groups. So, for the entire leg, say 70.3 km, 80 percent of the time you will be alone and you will be talking to yourself — so you need to talk to yourself to the finish line and for that your mind has to stay positive and strong.

PROUD PARENTS: Dr. M.S. Prasad and Prabha Prasad with their children Pragna and Prajwal.

SOM: Is there an element of sibling rivalry between you guys?

Prajwal: (Laughs) Not at all. That said, Pragna is much slower than I am so…

SOM: What does this sport mean to you?

Pragna: This sport has changed my life; it has given me mental strength and the travel really does give one confidence. Also, this sport has brought me closer to my brother and made me grateful for all the things my parents do for us.

Prajwal: It has helped me bond with my sister and appreciate my parents. Also, this sport keeps me fit and motivated. I hope to do an Ironman every year, let us see how it goes. 

SOM: How many Mysureans have completed a Full-Ironman challenge?

Prajwal: There are only three people who have done an entire Ironman — my sister Pragna, myself and Dr. Usha Hegde.


  1. Tara says:

    Indians are prone to dish out quick praise and high appreciation, even where there are no achievements.
    This brother-sister duo are taking part in training and events in Australia-which has not got triathlon Olympic champion
    and Italy, which does not have either.
    How good are they? Would they qualify the Olympic grade? I think not. These triathlon, pentathlon and decathlon are sports that require endurance limits, with triathlon needing the least. It is unlikely , vegetarians have that high limits. Also, India’s reputation in these field events is very low.


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