There were times when sport was almost a “no-fly” zone for women but not anymore. Times have changed so drastically that women have started competing alongside men with success. English wicket-keeper Sarah Taylor became the first woman to play men’s grade cricket in Australia earlier this year.
Colombian driver Tatiana Calderon comes from that rare breed who loves to compete with men that too on the fast track. The 22-year-old was the only girl-racer on the FIA Formula 3 European Championship grid two seasons ago. Her first year in European F3 was tough, but she learnt a lot and came back stronger to be the first female to step into a British F3 podium in 2013.
During the current season of the MRF Challenge, she had a podium finish in Race 1 at the Bahrain International Circuit last weekend to go with two podium finishes in Abu Dhabi last month and is currently third in championship standings after Round Two.
“I don’t understand why people think motorsport is a man’s sport. I never felt I couldn’t compete against boys and nowadays, we see more and more women involved in motorsport. Times are changing and hopefully, we will see more and more girls racing,” Tatiana enthuses.
Tatiana was always very competitive and a sports lover, playing tennis, soccer and even did a bit of horse riding until her elder sister Paula took her go-karting at the age of eight. Since then it has been all about racing cars for Tatiana as she pursues her goal of competing in the Formula 1 race.
Tatiana with her sister Paula
“My sister took me to a rental kart track and I immediately fell in love! I started going there every day after school, every weekend. We even managed to convince our parents to buy us a go-kart — since then our passion for this sport grows every day,” she said.
Paula continues to accompany her in every race and boost her morale. “She comes with me to almost every race, she is seven years older than me but we do everything together, we are best friends, so for me her support is very important. She used to race as well, we started at the same time with go-karts and we used to race an endurance championship in Colombia together (we won the championship) but racing is a hobby for her. She helps me on and off the track. She studied law and economics, did a masters in marketing as well, so I'm glad to have her helping me in every aspect of my career. We are a team!,” she informs.
As a woman, Tatiana has faced certain challenges in the male dominated sport but it has only increased her resolve to be the best. “I have been very lucky to have such a supportive family. They have helped me in every step of my career and if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am now. As a woman in motorsport, you face more challenges than if you were a guy, but I love challenges and I love to earn the respect from my opponents and the people I work with. As a female, nobody really believes in your ability until you show them so it’s always difficult,” she explains.
Racing has become a part of Tatiana’s daily habits and when she isn’t on the track, she feels disillusioned. “I love my job, love racing or driving any kind of car, so whenever I’m not on a race track, I feel there is something missing. I like to be busy, I like training and getting better. When I have a bad weekend, I love to do some boxing to get some anger out and working out in the gym are two things I find stress reliving,” she said.
But racing can be draining at times so Tatiana developed a solution to stay focused. “People sometimes don’t realise how physically and mentally demanding racing is. So when I’m not racing, I dedicate most of my time to training. I go to the gym for two to four hours a day, and then before the races, I drive the car virtually on a simulator,” she said.
Ritual before a race: I like to warm up by skipping and listening to music — it motivates me before I jump into the car.
When not racing: I love to play tennis and love cycling.
Favourite Hollywood actor: Owen Wilson
Favourite destination for holidays: Santa Marta, Colombia
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