In India, a career in sports has never been a top priority because of the risks and uncertainties involved in taking it up as a career choice. If you are a woman, and trying to make play a professional sport of your choice, the challenges become even bigger. You will have to overcome adversity – including a lack of infrastructure and gender discrimination – to come out on top. Unfortunately many women give up but there are also those who fight it out.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, let’s take a look at five Indian women athletes who made the country proud with their resilience –
PV Sandhu is an icon at the world badminton stage. She had to against all odds to become the first woman from India to win a silver medal in the Olympics. She is the youngest athlete who won the medals at the age of 21. She an inspiration for many young girls today. Her performance has won her several medals and awards including the prestigious Padma Bhushan award in January 2020.
We all know boxing is the men’s sport despite. One can only imagine how much Mary Kom have had to struggle to win a medal in boxing at the Olympics. Mary Kom is known for her powerful punches. Her return into the ring after the birth of her child made her a role model to many young women. She has also received the Padma Bhushan award in boxing and a gold medal in Asian Games in 2014.
The girl from the village of Dhing, without training and high-level facilities, made history by completing the 400 meters race in 51.46 seconds and winning the Asian Games in Jakarta. Her persistence and strong determination guided her to the path of success and glory. It was never easy for her to achieve all of this without going through the grind and fighting it out in a patriarchal society. She did that and proved to the world that success demands sacrifices.
Geeta Phogat had changed orthodox thinking that wrestling is only the sports game that is meant for men. She is from Balali Village of Haryana’s Bhiwani district. She is the first female wrestler who won the gold medal in wrestling at the Commonwealth Games (2010). Her father, also her role model, guided and trained her since childhood despite opposition from the society.
PT Usha is knows as Flying Rani, Payyoli Express, Golden Girl… the epithets are as numerous as the 102 international medals and 1,000-plus awards she has won at national & state-level meets. She achieved success despite humble beginnings, financial shortcomings, and a crippling infrastructure. Her sporting spirit has triumphed in life’s race, taking everything from the dejection of losing out on an Olympic medal to allegations of drug use in her stride.