If you want to look at how much a nation is growing, look at the number of women that are representing the country at an international level. In 2016, India was represented by 54 women at Olympics, which was the highest female representation. Tokyo Olympics is going to witness 56 Indian women who by being a part of this accomplishment, have already made their nation proud. And it’s time to show the world how our girls are taking the level of the game higher.
We were all looking forward to women representation at Olympics 2020 but COVID-19, delayed it by a year. Now that it’s finally happening, we are rooting for all the players and hoping to bring the medals back home. Each and every one of them has overcome a struggle to be where they are today, and we are talking about a few stories that would inspire the rest of the nation.
Ankita Raina, Tennis
In the history of over 100 years of Olympics, there hasn’t been any woman from Gujarat state representing the nation at Olympics. Ankita Raina, India’s No. 1 tennis player in singles and doubles changed that fact this year. She is debuting this year and is the state’s first woman Olympian.
Alongside Sania Mirza, Ankita will be making the nation proud and is the next star in making.
Sonam Malik, Wrestling
After a paralysis attack, no one can expect you to do even your daily chores. But Sonal Malik did what is considered to be a miracle. In 2017, a nerve twinge in her right shoulder led to paralysis of the right side of her body. Her sports career almost ended after her glorious moment of winning gold at the World Cadet Championship in Athens, Greece.
Cut to 2021, she has managed to not just get back on her feet but she is back to the mat and has booked her spot in Tokyo Olympics in the 62kg category.
Bhawna Jat, Athletics
In small villages, the lives of Indian women can revolve around prejudices and misogyny, especially when you are targeting to be a sportsperson. Bhawna’s life was no different. Coming from a tiny village Kabra, Rajasthan, she had a complicated journey. She used to get comments on wearing shorts, and to get away with it, she started practising at 3 in the morning and managed to escape the comments of neighbours and relatives. However, her father and brothers stood beside her and supported her in her endeavour.
Until 2011, Bhawna didn’t know anything about the Olympics. However, within nine years, she has managed to book herself a spot in Tokyo Olympics.
Dutee Chand, Athletics
Winning two silver medals at Asian Games didn’t guarantee Dutee that her career journey will be smooth. After coming out and telling the world about her same-sex relationship, her profession was overshadowed by the controversy. However, Dutee didn’t let this derail her career.
In 2014, she was banned from participating as a female because of the high testosterone level in her body. The 23-year-old athlete is now advocating how her body shouldn’t define her participation. She says no one should be told to change their body for participation in sports.
Elavenil Valarivan, Shooting
Elavenil Valarivan must be the world’s no. 1 shooter, but the shooting didn’t appeal to her initially. When she was introduced to the sport, she wanted to run away from the range. She planned to never go back there but life doesn’t go as we plan, does it? Her father insisted her on going to the range every Sunday. For about seven months she just held the gun and didn’t shoot even one shot, and she considers that period as the most boring part of her journey.
In a school competition, she tried her luck for the first time and got a bronze medal. That’s when the spark ignited, and she has never left the range ever since.
VK Vismaya, Athletics
As an Indian child, you are often expected to focus on studies and not on sports. That’s the journey Vismaya lived. To get a seat in an engineering college, she was about to give up her career in athletics. VK Vismaya never participated in senior nationals, and in 2017; she was a part of an international event. She along with other runners won a silver medal for a relay race in World Championship.
She is also known as an accidental runner because she never thought of building a career in sports, let alone being a competitive runner for the country.
Seema Punia, Discus Throw
The concept of adversity is not new to a sportsperson. Seema Punia has been through similar adversities. It all started after winning Junior World Championship in 2000 when Seema failed the dope test and was stripped of the gold medal. She could have easily given up, but that’s not who she is. She fought it through and is still shining like a star.
2010 Commonwealth, she got a bronze home, and it was followed by silver in 2014. This 37-year-old athlete is representing the nation for the discus throw at Tokyo.
Apurvi Chandela, Shooting
With sports running in the family, it becomes an integral part of you. Apurvi’s mother and sisters were national-level basketball players, and that is what she wanted to do. Unfortunately, her height set her back. When Abhinav Bindra won the gold, it changed the game for her, literally. Her perspective took a turn, and she decided to start off her journey in the shooting.
She was such a sports fanatic that she even took sports journalism as a subject to plan her backup plan. In Tokyo, she will be participating for India in the women’s 10m air rifle event.
Sutirtha Mukherjee, Table Tennis
Fudging age records is a fraud that leads to suspension. That’s what happened with Sutirtha Mukherjee, and she couldn’t get a chance to represent the nation at Rio Games. Sitting out for a year was a punch in the gut. At the time of suspension, she was the No. 1 table tennis player and in India. The period was challenging for her, and she couldn’t bring herself to play for the next two months.
Words of inspiration from everyone around her made her come back to practice and look at where she is today. Her journey is what inspires us to never give up when hurdles come up.
If you still believe that you can’t achieve something because your condition doesn’t allow you to do that, these stories will make you believe in yourself and get over the hurdles. We wish all the players success for Tokyo Olympics.