Meet Harpreet Chandi, the British Army officer who became the first woman of Indian descent to walk solo to the South Pole

LONDON: Captain Harpreet Chandi, a 32-year-old Sikh British Army officer and physiotherapist, also known as Polar Preet, made history by becoming the first woman of color to perform a unassisted solo hike to the South Pole.

Chandi announced his historic feat on his live blog on Monday at the end of day 40 after covering 700 miles (1,127 kilometers) while pulling a pulka or sled with all his gear and battling minus 50 degree temperatures Celsius and wind speeds of around 60 mph.

“I arrived at the South Pole where it’s snowing. I’m feeling so many emotions right now. I didn’t know anything about the polar world three years ago and it’s so surreal to finally be here. It was difficult to ‘come here and I want to thank everyone for their support,” she wrote.

“This expedition has always been so much more than me. I want to encourage people to push their limits and believe in themselves, and I want you to be able to do that without being called a rebel. many occasions and we’ve been told to ‘just do what’s normal’, but we create our own normality,” Chandi said.

She uploaded a live tracking map of her trek and also posted regular blogs of her trip to the snowy region.

“Day 40 – Completed. Preet has just made history by becoming the first woman of color to complete a solo expedition to Antarctica,” reads her latest blog entry.

“You are capable of anything you want. It doesn’t matter where you come from or where your starting line is, everyone starts somewhere. I don’t just want to break the glass ceiling, I want to break it in a million pieces,” she said. noted.

As part of a medical regiment in the North West of England, Chandi’s main role is to organize and validate the training of army doctors as a clinical training officer.

Currently based in London, she is completing her part-time Masters in Sports and Exercise Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and has been dragging two large tires for the past few months for her polar training as a replacement for the heavy sled. she hangs out in Antarctica.

“It’s definitely colder in the last degree where I am at a higher altitude. I haven’t seen anyone here in the last degree and now I’m 15 nautical miles from the South Pole. Can’t believe I’m almost there -down,” read his Sunday entry, a day before his milestone.

She also used her time in the cold to think about wedding plans for her return to England, having been engaged to army reserve fiancé David Jarman before leaving for her expedition. The couple are expected to be reunited in Chile when they return from the South Pole later this month.

“I read somewhere that when you ask people to be your bridesmaids, it’s okay to do it in a special way, so from Antarctica, I would love nothing more than you be my bridesmaids. Sonia Chandi, Rachel Tucker-Norton, Kamal Dhamrait, Tig Bridge, Hannah Sawford (or Hannah Smith now) and Collette Davey,” Chandi wrote.

“I love you all and I would like you to be my bridesmaids. I think it takes at least three bachelorette parties. That’s normal, isn’t it? But even if this isn’t normal, it’s never been something to stop me,” she added.

Chandi says she’s always been keen to push the human body to its limits and sees her latest assignment as part of that larger search.

As an “endurance athlete”, she ran marathons and ultra-marathons and, as an army officer, carried out exercises and large-scale deployments in Nepal, Kenya and, most recently, a six-month United Nations peacekeeping tour in South Sudan.

“Anything ambitious may seem out of reach at first, but every training I complete brings me closer to my goal. My training expeditions to Greenland and Norway have helped prepare me and my goal is now within reach. hand,” she said before leaving. for the South Pole in November.

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