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Tashi and Nancy Malik, the first twin sisters to climb Mount Everest together, have now become the fastest South Asians to complete the ‘Explorers Grand Slam’.
The 24-year-old twins achieved this feat by climbing the highest peaks in all seven continents and reaching the North and South Poles on skis.
Only one other South Asian has completed the feat before the twins, an Indian ex-Naval officer Satyabrat Dam who is now a professional adventurer.
The girls scaled the 5,895 metres high Mt Kilimanjaro, the tallest free-standing mountain on Earth and the highest peak in Africa, on July 3, thus completing the Explorers Grand Slam.
“The feat was a tough one, but worth the effort. There were times when it was difficult even to stand, but we stay put. Where there were many reasons for us to stop, there was only one to keep us going…our passion,” Nancy, the younger of the twins, told PTI.
Though the twins are basking in the glory of their achievements, they said they have not recieved any financial support from the Centre.
“Mountaineering is a great sport but it has put my parents in debt. Though we scaled many heights for our country, not even a single penny has been provided by the government,” the twins said.
The young achievers who met Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, however, expressed hope of getting more sponsors.
“Mountaineering is still not included as a sport. It is defined differently by various states. Thus, our chances of getting sponsors are bleak, but we are hopeful after Rijiju sir’s words of appreciation,” Tashi said.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand government is providing a sports scholarship to the young women.
“We are delighted to provide a sports scholarship to the young achievers. We have offered them to travel to New Zealand and study a year-long course on Sports and Exercise Psychology,” said Deputy High Commissioner, New Zealand, Michael Appleton.
Raising awareness against gender discrimination, the sisters also talked about the need to challenge gender stereotypes.
“Our achievements are not just our own. It is a message to the society that binds down girls to the four walls of their homes,” Tashi said, who along with her sister, are currently pursuing their scholarship in New Zealand.
“We are happy to add another moment of pride and glory for the Indian girl child. For now we are focused on raising the bar of performance so that the girls can claim their rightful place of dignity and respect in our society,” Tashi added.
The twins, who are from Uttarakhand and Haryana, have now set their eyes on Mt Cook, the highest peak in New Zealand.
“We are also planning to come out with a book on our journey so far,” Tashi further said