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Monal Chokshi in Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame

May 15, 2010 02:29 IST
Monal Chokshi became the first Indian-American to be inducted into Stanford University's Athletics Hall of Fame. Chokshi, who was honored in the track and field and cross-country category, was among the nine people to be inducted in 2009, including golfer Tiger Woods, tennis player Patrick McEnroe, baseball player Mike Mussina, and NFL player Tommy Vardell.
"I am honored and proud to represent Indian-Americans in the Hall of Fame," said Chokshi, a senior market research analyst at Yahoo in Sunnyvale, California. "To be recognized as a part of Stanford history is an achievement I would have never imagined."

The university noted in its announcement that she was one of the best distance runners in school history. 'Chokshi captured the 3,000 meter title at the 1998 National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships,' it stated. She captained Stanford's NCAA women's cross-country team and led it to victory in the National Championships in 1996, a first for the university.

She started her career accidentally at the age of 12, while growing up in Bridgewater, New Jersey. A soccer player, she once went for a five-mile practice jog with her older sister Sejal. Chokshi had never run before, and despite wearing a pair of jeans shorts and sneakers, she was sprinting at the end, beating older boys and girls.
In her last race at Stanford in 1998 Chokshi won the NCAA national 3,000-meter championship held in Buffalo, New York. She started last and passed the 15-person field to win by 30
After the win, Stanford carved her name on a plaque located on the campus where the school's history of all NCAA champions is displayed.
After graduating, Chokshi began working in software and has since received a masters degree from the University of California, San Diego. Although she resurrected her running career briefly in a stint to qualify for the 2008 Olympic trials, she now uses her athletic ability to help charities. She is training for a 100-mile cycling race in Lake Tahoe this June, and has already raised over $3,000 from friends and family for cancer research.Chokshi says her biggest achievement was the 3,000-meter win.
"After graduating from high school, my primary goal in college was to become an NCAA All-American. However, much to my surprise, I achieved that honor in my first track season. So, after that, my main goal became winning an individual NCAA national title."It wasn't until my senior year, and my final race in a Stanford uniform, that I did it. It was the perfect end to my collegiate athletic career," she said.
She said her parents instilled in her an interest for sports."My dad was a cricketer and my mom has always enjoyed sports like tennis and racquetball," she said, "I believe my success in athletics was rooted in my family's support."Yet it took great effort to balance academics and athletics.
"I had to miss several classes to travel to competitions, but it made me work harder than I would have otherwise, to complete assignments early and to learn things on my own. These experiences helped me become more independent and taught me time-management skills. Most of all, I've learned how to balance priorities," she says.
Image: Monal Chokshi
George Joseph in New York