In a male-dominated country like India, it’s absolutely a Herculean task for a woman to earn all the accolades she deserve and it surely increases manifold if you are in the field of sports. In this article, we present to you the stories of five sportswomen, who not only represented India in the international circuit but also made the country proud time and again; only to remain under-hyped.
General population of India have always cared about Cricket, Cricket and Cricket. In spite of the achievements of other sportspersons, people always chose to remain ignorant of them. Still, a Leander Paes, a Bhaichung Bhutia or a Viswanathan Anand sometimes found a place in the last pages of the newspapers; but a Mary Com or a Karnam Maleshwari? Seldom they earned the recognition they deserve from us.
And the story has not changed much! Although now-a-days people know and care about Sania Mirza or Saina Nehwal, there are plenty of other sportswomen who have been bringing laurels to the nation. However, very few care to know about them. Here, we present the stories of five such women who should get huge applause from us.
1. Aditi Chauhan
First Indian woman to play for a British football club, Aditi has been in the news for the past week. West Ham United signed the Indian national team goalkeeper some days ago and hopefully it would compel All India Football Federation take the matter of Indian Womens’ football more seriously and start a professional league at the earliest. Indian Womens’ team are in a much better position in world rankings than their male counter-parts and yet, neither the authorities nor the common people care much about them. In an exclusive interview with Sports-nova, Aditi opened up about all these and said that she hopes things will change pretty soon.
2-3. Ashwini Ponnappa-Jwala Gutta
With the presence of Saina Nehwal in the circuit, it’s hard to get the full attention in Badminton but Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta have been two of the top Indian players for quite some time now. The reason of mentioning their name together is that they have been great doubles partner for the last few years.
Gutta and Ponnappa made history in 2010 when they won the first gold medal for India in the Commonwealth Games. A year later, they recorded another great achievement by becoming the first Indian pair to ensure a medal at the World Badminton Championships. Their success story has continued till this day. Only a couple of months ago, the two won Canada Open women’s doubles title by defeating the top-seeded Dutch pair of Eefje Muskens and Selena Piek.
Hopefully, along with Saina, Ashwini and Jwala will make India proud time and again.
4. Heena Sidhu
“In India you can’t make a profession out of sport unless you are a cricketer,” with a heavy heart, said Heena Sidhu in an interview with India Times. Heena became India’s first world number one pistol shooter last year and yet very few Indian know her name.
Heena’s career started in 2006 and she took part in 2010 Commonwealth Games and 2012 London Olympics. In 2013, she won the best medal a shooter could dream of by winning the Gold in the ISSF World Cup Finals – Rifle/Pistol in Munich, Germany. However, she never got the appreciation she deserves.
“When I started out seven, eight years back it was really tough to break through. It’s not as if people come marching to your house (demanding you quit), but what society thinks affects the parents and eventually it trickles down to the children,” added Sidhu in that interview, saying Indian society still has traditional expectations of women.
5. Geeta Phogat
Geeta Phogat won India’s first ever gold medal in women’s wrestling in the 55 kg freestyle category at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. She also made history when she became the first ever female wrestler from India to qualify for the Olympics.
Geeta once said that she and others have had to overcome hurdles men simply do not face. “When I started wrestling my family had to face a lot of criticism from community elders,” the 26 year old wrestler said. “People said I would bring only shame to my family, no one would want to marry me.”
“I was told wrestling is a man’s sport. But I have proved that women can wrestle and win medals as well,” she added after winning the medal in 2010. Phogat had to train with male wrestlers as a young athlete since there was no similar facility for women. We can only hope that her story will inspire others to take up wrestling seriously and the authority will care about them in the long run.
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