The designer of the dress: Amitaruci
Who says you can’t be an athlete and a beauty pageant at the same time? Well, 24-year-old Tanalaksiumy Mahenthiran Rayer sure beat that odd out and strutting the field and runway effortlessly. However, her journey to being a successful and independent woman is never an easy one but through hard work and resilience to hold on is what pull her through. This is her story.
Tell me more about your background and your career?
I come from a mixed ethnicity through my mum who is a Chinese and my dad is Indian. I have an elder sister who is a coach in the Perak shooting team and was a national shooter as well. As far as my career goes, I started out as an athlete where I have gone on to win bronze medalist in the recent SeaGames in the category of woman 4x400m(sprinting) as well as compete in Asean countries. I wanted to venture into the pageant world as my sister was in it too. You could say she was the fire starter in my pursuit into the Miss Universe contest.
Was being an athlete an interest you had since you were young? How?
I didn’t have a choice *laughs*. My elder sister, Priya and I had an age gap of seven years. She was involved in one of the most expensive games which is shooting and she left it during her last SUKMA game in 2004. When I told my parents I wanted to for shooting too, my parents were against it as it was a pricey sport. So, when I was in school, running is considered the cheapest sports ever. Heck, you can run at your house “taman” or back alley and you could still qualify as a runner. I associate myself with netball too at the same time. All that sports that I did, earn me a spot in the sports school at the young of 13 years old in Penang for 3 years. I guess that’s where the athlete side in me stayed until today.
What is one of the hardest things you have to go through being an athlete?
It takes a lot of effort and self-motivation just to get to training every single day. There will be days where I wish it would rain so I could skip practice but in my mind, I always thought, if I skip practice, then my opponent will be working double the effort in their practice. With that, I just pick myself up and keep working harder. When I came back for my last MSSM competition in the year of May 2008, my official first coach told me to come for training and he said this to me “You take my word, I’ll make you a winner in the next MSSM 2009.”
In that one year, I sacrificed so much for the sake of attending training and often feeling tired. Sometimes, I would fight with my coach and explaining to him that I’m just a child and just giving me a break. I missed out on being a normal teenager with my friends and just having that chilled out ‘do-not-worry-about-anything’ kinda kid. However, if it wasn’t for my coach’s motivational push to me, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. Until today, we still keep in touch and I regard him as a father figure, and a friend.
What is the feeling like representing Malaysia?
It’s a very rejuvenating experience. All you ever want to do is to go up on that podium and sing Negaraku and wanting the Malaysian flag raised up high. Also, a whole stadium is watching you, family taking leave just to see you compete also boils down to the fact of me wanting to work harder and achieve success. Plus, if I screw up one thing, I am going to let my teammates and coaches down. It’s all about motivating yourself towards the right direction and representing Malaysia is one of my proudest moments.
In your opinion, should a female athlete be celebrated as much as male athletes? Why?
It should be celebrated equally because, at the end of the day, we are all the same person. Just because you’re carrying heavier weight doesn’t mean you are a stronger person and superior to the rest. It’s always about the pain, sweat and tears you endure and the experiences you go through that define who you are in life. There may be people disagreeing with me on this topic and deny it, but in my perspective, women understand people better. A woman is a mother, somehow if given a choice, most would choose motherhood. In that way, women understand other people’s emotions better.
Personally, I don’t like when people characterize men in such a way that women could do as well. How the sports industry hype a men’s category section as the main event is something that truly needs to be said because everything needs a balance and that accounts for both genders.
Being in the pageant industry, was it difficult to balance elegance and being poise despite your background as an athlete? Why?
To be honest, it was very hard for me. Coming from a t-shirt, and pony-tail, shorts and no makeup kind of girl, being in a competition that is the total opposite of simple is already challenging for me. In that time I was competing, they made it a reality TV show and I had to walk in heels for the first time and catwalk guru in that episode shouting at me. I had to be calm and composed as well. I’ve learned and experience a lot when I was in the pageant. To me, I am focusing hard and absorbing as much information as I can in what I do. There’s a significant amount of practice you need to do in order to be the best. In my case, I was more than happy to be placed in Top 10 of Miss Universe Malaysia 2017.
In life, the moment you feel like giving up, it means you’ve given your best.. so pick yourself back up and say, I’ve been through worse! You’re nothing! . . . Credits: @shereen_sher29 . . #nike #saturdaytraining #circuit #givingupisnotanoption #fight #persistence #hustlehard #youregettingthere #nothingcomeseasy #onestepatatime #tanalaksiumy
How do you overcome the pressure and stress from people around you?
There is always going to be pressure and stress especially if it takes your full mind, body and soul into an activity or sports. Sometimes, when I go training, I have friends who tease me by saying “eh, you’re a beauty queen now, you sure you can you run or lift weights now not?”. With all that embarrassment from my friends, I have to learn to tell myself, that it’s alright, take one step at a time. Being in both very prestigious competition, it’s a platform for me to be heard. It’s never wrong to step out of your comfort zone and maybe an opportunity will come knocking in.
Who is your biggest role model?
It would have to be my mum and my sister.
Describe yourself in three words?
Straightforward, bubbly, a go-getter.
What advice can you give to others?
Whatever you put your mind to, always give your 120 per cent. I always believe in getting things your own way and striving for the best in what you do. Although at times, you may be lazy to wake up and fulfil your goals, always remember why you started in the first place. It’s all mind over matter at the end of the day. I didn’t come from a very rich family, I had to work hard and be independent into my work. Always be yourself and be ready to grab an opportunity it happens to you.
Want to know how is her training and experience like in day to day life? Follow her on Instagram here: Tanalaksiumy Mahenthiran Rayer.