The conjunction of women and sports becomes pronounced in a country where there has not been enough propulsion or even recognition of both in the past. In such a milieu, the triumph at Rio comes as a historic step in its reinforcement of the power that both women and sports carry to represent the nation. Women are breaking out of the shackles of stereotypical notions and the fact that their ride out of this has been anything but easy has further glorified their efforts. Further, it has been interesting to notice the categories in which women have flourished- Gymnastics, Golf, Badminton and Wrestling. All four of them are at varying levels of development, today.
When speaking of sports, the nation has not been represented in several fields. There have been and still are so many inadequately developed sports because of the lack of financial and infrastructural scaffolding. Yet, a category like Gymnastics has surfaced. Dipa Karmakar has risen through the prejudice with a marriage hall as her training ground and a motorcycle board as her equipment. Although this highlights such a deep lacuna in the industry, it is an incredible source of inspiration for so many. Having pioneered the category for India at the global platform, we now see the rise of so many beneficiaries for training gymnasts and this in itself, is a great step forward.
On a personal level, golf has held a special place for me. It is something I have pursued for long and to see it being propelled from its median stance is exciting. Aditi Ashok is credited with being the youngest Indian female golfer to win the Lalla Aicha Tour School that’s secured her a ticket to the Ladies European Tour so it doesn’t come as a surprise to see her qualify and outshine in this category.
PV Sindhu’s victory has been much celebrated as she became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal. While her feat has been incredible, Saina Nehwal represented not just her own indomitable spirit but also that of all women, by performing, despite sustaining injuries. This epitomizes the character of every woman that is quintessentially undeniably strong.
One cannot escape a wrestler when talking of strength and with Sakshi Malik’s bronze medal in the 58 kg category, one cannot afford to overlook it. Fortunately today, sports as an area is far from being overlooked and it is in fact, empowering women in our country. As a sports enthusiast and as a stakeholder in the education industry, I hope that the education system is ingrained with the empowering option of sports. The adaptation of a more inclusive and supportive mind-set towards sports can create a reservoir of immensely talented sportswomen and men. It is time that we, as a society, grow towards acknowledging and assigning sports its due importance. It is only when the culture of the country is thus remoulded that we, as a community can supplement and reinforce the unparalleled feat of these remarkable women.
Radha Kapoor is the founder of ISDI who brought the iconic Parsons Institute to India. She also fosters startups and investments in sport leagues like the Pro Kabaddi league.