Bagi pemerhati olahraga lari, sepeda, renang, ataupun gabungan ketiganya yang dikenal dengan triathlon, mungkin sosok perempuan cantik yang selalu menggunakan tagar #buleindo ini sudah cukup familiar di beberapa pemberitaan ataupun social media.

Mari kita berkenalan dengan Sarah Virginia Costeira, 26 tahun, seorang triathlete keturunan Portugis dan Perancis, peraih podium untuk kategori Long Distance Female di Sungailiat Triathlon 22 April 2017 lalu.

Sebagai informasi, jarak yang harus ditempuh untuk kategori ini adalah berenang sejauh 1.9km, bersepeda 90km dan diakhiri dengan berlari 21.1km.

Sarah mengaku dia menekuni triathlon untuk menantang dirinya karena dulu dia pernah merasa sangat lemah dan kurang percaya diri. Penyebabnya karena ternyata Sarah pernah terjebak dengan anorexia selama bertahun-tahun, dimana dia mengalami begitu banyak masalah kesehatan karena daya tahan tubuh yang sangat rendah sehingga rentan terhadap penyakit.

“Hidup di Perancis, dimana cantik itu identik dengan badan kurus, membuat saya pun menjadi takut gemuk dan tidak mau makan,” kenangnya. Sarah menjadi  jarang bersosialiasi dan sering menolak ajakan pergi dari teman-temannya karena takut diajak makan.

Saat itu berat badan Sarah bahkan hanya 38kg. Sangat tidak ideal untuk wanita dengan tinggi badan 165cm dan membuatnya terlihat rapuh. Oleh karena itu, doing sport/triathlon made me feel stronger as I proved to myself I could achieve something that I thought I couldn’t and be proud about it,” imbuhnya.

Perkenalan dengan triathlon

Sebenarnya Sarah sudah mulai berlari secara kasual sejak 2012 ketika masih kuliah. Bahkan saat kecil dia mengikuti olahraga karate hingga 2008 dan meraih brown belt.

Ketika Sarah memutuskan pindah ke Shanghai 2014 untuk bekerja sebagai French consular officer, saat itulah awal perkenalannya dengan sebuah komunitas lari yang akhirnya merubah hidupnya.

Di samping berlari kasual sebelum berangkat kerja, Sarah akhirnya mulai berlatih bersama komunitas tersebut secara rutin setiap minggunya. Setelah beberapa bulan, dia merasakan bahwa kemampuan larinya semakin meningkat dan teman-temannya meyakinkannya untuk mengikuti race di Shanghai.

I started small by joining my first 10k and bought my first sports watch to track my progress and motivate me to be more serious with my running. Surprisingly I finished second in 40 minutes,” kenangnya sambil tertawa. Selanjutnya, Sarah pun mulai bersepeda dan berenang seiring dengan teman-temannya yang mulai mencoba triathlon.

Setahun kemudian, tepatnya di bulan Mei 2015, Sarah mengikuti triathlon race pertamanya, Jinshan Triathlon. Sayangnya ia sempat tersesat saat bersepeda sehingga menempuh jarak 5km lebih jauh. “Guess I was enjoying too much the ride,” canda Sarah.

Surprisingly, Sarah berhasil menjadi juara dua di kategorinya. Sungguh pengalaman yang luar biasa, sekaligus unik dan tak terlupakan. Race demi race kemudian diikuti hingga race bergengsi sekaliber Ironman 70.3. Personal Best Sarah diraihnya untuk jarak 70.3 adalah 05:07:38 di Ironman Liuzhou, Maret 2017 lalu.

“When I started considering doing triathlon, I couldn’t even swim freestyle and riding a bike was just a way for me to commute. Less than one year and a half later, here I am, still not a “natural” swimmer, still riding my aluminum bike but today I am an Ironman,” ujarnya. Wow, such an inspiration.

Petikan wawancara dengan Sarah Costeira

Berikut adalah petikan wawancara dengan Sarah mengenai kehidupan pribadi, inspirasi dalam berolahraga, dan target yang ingin dicapai dalam satu tahun ini.

How do you like living in Jakarta? I read that you love martabak. How about the culture dan the music? (Saya liat foto Sarah dengan Rhoma Irama di bandara, so funny.

I have been living in Indonesia for almost 8 months now. At first it was supposed to be temporary until I found what I wanted to do next after leaving China but in the end, I really come to like living here and decided that I wanted to stay longer.

I love Indonesian cuisine, it’s very diverse so whenever I travel it feels like a culinary trip as I want to try the local specialties and end up buying lots of oleh-oleh. Indonesian food is so flavorful and now I know that everything tastes better with sambal 😉

Indonesia is very rich and multicultural so I get to experience different traditions in different places (especially in Bali where I stayed for a few months) and to know more about the big celebrations such as Imlek, hari Nyepi, Lebaran that we don’t have back in Europe.

For the music, it started as a joke when I took that picture with Rhoma Irama’s poster but I find dangdut funny and catchy, the lyrics are usually simple and repetitive so I can understand them and improve my Bahasa Indonesia.

What is your hobby?

I play the violin and used to be part of an orchestra back in France. I also draw and paint in my free time. And I like to do outdoor activities such as hiking, I went to the Anapurna in Nepal a few years ago, it was an amazing experience. These activities soothe me and are a good complement with the adrenaline rush of triathlon.

What do you do in your leisure time?

In my leisure time, I like to meet my friends over a good meal or coffee, talking to my parents and family over skype, watching movies or TV shows, reading, getting a massage (for sore legs). Very normal activities.

Who is your inspiration in doing sport and in life?

My inspiration in doing sport is my friend and triathlete Inge Prasetyo. She’s the one who pushed me out of my comfort zone with my running and got me into triathlon (and taught me how to swim, hahaha…). As her training buddy, I can tell how dedicated and strong she is, she never gives up or lets herself down.

My inspiration in life is definitely my father. He left Portugal to went working in France when he was 16 in order to help his siblings by sending money back there. He worked hard all his life but always had the time to help people in need and be the best dad for me. He is the most genuine and generous person I know and he’s my model.

Do your family also in to sport?

My family is not into sports at all, that’s why they didn’t understand when I started to run why I liked it so much and why running such long distances. And I guess they were more confused when I started doing triathlon and combining three sports – swimming, cycling and running in one race. Even now they are still wondering why I am doing all this crazy things!

How frequent your training schedule?

I train twice a day on weekdays and once during weekends as I will do my long run and my long ride. But if I feel like I need a rest I will listen to my body and take it. I rather skip a workout and recover properly than forcing my body into a bad training and risking injury.

Any tips on nutrition to be considered?

Nutrition is crucial when doing sports. It supports the training and performance by giving the energy needed and helps to recover.

After struggling with anorexia, I know that labelling food as “good” or “bad” can be dangerous and lead to extreme anxiety, guilt and isolation. So I don’t cut out any food from my diet. I eat plenty of veggies and fruits, protein, carbs and fat.

I also eat other stuff that may not be considered healthy (martabak and gorengan) but in small portions as I think that being aware of what you eat and enjoy it is the most important than simply “fueling” your body.

Please describe yourself in one sentence.

I might not be the fastest, the strongest or the most gifted but I am definitely one of the most persistent.

Last, any message to motivate people in doing sport?

It doesn’t matter when and where you start, when doing sports, every little step counts and every single effort you put into will be worth it and will reflect into your life.

Olahraga mengubah hidup

Sarah mengakui bahwa olahraga, khususnya triathlon yang sudah mengubah hidupnya, tidak saja menyembuhkan dirinya dari anorexia dan membuatnya lebih sehat secara fisik, namun juga membuatnya lebih percaya diri dan gigih dalam mencoba sesuatu yang baru.

Dengan olahraga, Sarah juga menjadi lebih menikmati hidup. “Saya tidak kurus, tapi saya menikmati setiap momen dimana saya bisa bertemu banyak orang, datang ke acara apa saja, makan apa saja, tanpa takut akan pandangan orang terhadap tubuh saya,” tambahnya.

Sarah yakin bisa mengukir prestasi lebih baik ke depannya. “Target saya dalam waktu dekat adalah Ironman Bintan 70.3 pada Agustus mendatang. Setelah itu saya akan berusaha untuk bisa mendapatkan slot mengikuti Ironman World Championship di Kona pada tahun depan.”

“Di Ironman Liuzhou kemarin, saya hampir mendapatkan slotnya, hanya saja kurang tiga puluh satu detik. Mungkin tahun ini belum waktunya bagi saya, namun dengan patience, perseverance and hard work, saya yakin target itu pasti bisa saya capai,” pungkasnya sambil tersenyum.

Good luck, Sarah. Terima kasih sudah berbagi cerita yang sangat menginspirasi.

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