The sportswomen of India have picked up more than a few laurels in recent times. On International Women’s Day, we speak to four of them about how hard they train to achieve their goal
The Rio de Janeiro Olympics was on and the Indian contingent wasn’t really calling for the cheers. One by one, campaigns were failing for the country. It was towards the fag end of the games, that finally, the Indian flag was unfurled, as two young women did the country proud. PV Sindhu bagged a silver in badminton and Sakshi Malik grabbed a bronze in wrestling. These two women had not only fulfilled every sportperson’s ultimate dream, but had also become the poster girls of women empowerment in the country. And there are many more. From athlete Dipa Karmakar to Paralympian Deepa Malik and from shooter Heena Sidhu to wrestlers Geeta Phogat and Sakshi Malik, women are shining bright in the galaxy of successful Indian sports persons. The rise of Indian women in the arena of sports has been commendable and their achievements have not come easy!
Perhaps the greatest impact of their achievement has been on aspiring sportswomen. We are increasingly seeing more women aiming for a career in sports. They train as hard as their male counterparts, sometimes even harder, and have their eyes firmly set on the goal. As the world celebrates woman power on March 8, four women sports stars echo this sentiment.
Initially, I did not pay much attention to physical fitness. I soon started taking care of my body by keeping myself well-hydrated and having my vitamins, and this has really helped me understand how my body would perform under pressure. This is one of the most fundamental changes in my lifestyle, and I might have never done this otherwise.
Heena Sidhu (the first Indian pistol shooter to be ranked World #1)
I have not missed my training and have stuck to a very disciplined regimen that has involved a lot of change in my personal life. I really had to get into tapasya mode, cut off from the world, and focus on my training, away from everything else. There was no scope for any distractions, and I needed tunnel-vision focus on the goal to excel. Now, the results speak for themselves!
Deepa Malik (the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Paralympic Games, and a Padma Shri recipient in 2017)
I have always maintained my training discipline – I do six hours of rigorous training daily, and I never miss my workouts. It is this hard work and discipline that have brought me the glory I’ve achieved.
Sakshi Malik (the first Indian female wrestler to win a medal at the Olympics. She was awarded Padma Shri in 2017)
As children, we (my sister and I) were expected to be at the pit for training even before the cock crowed; this remains unchanged even today. Even back then, we used to run 20 rounds of the 400 m track, a number of sprints, rope-climbing and other exercises. This gave us the drive to succeed in any situation – no matter how tall or strong the opponent – and it has helped us in our matches.
Geeta Phogat (the first Indian woman wrestler to qualify for the Summer Olympics, 2012)