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Hima, Deepa, Arunima: India's Golden Sports Girls Who've Made Us Proud

Women For The Win
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Women For The Win

Women in India have taken giant strides, breaking barriers and setting new benchmarks over the past few decades. From business to politics and technology, they have successfully shattered all stereotypes, and glass ceilings.

The sporting arena, too, has seen champions emerging from various corners of India. From fighting gender discrimination to financial restraints, these women have overcome physical and mental obstacles to build not just a name, but a legacy for themselves.
This women's day, we tip our hats to these unstoppable ladies who have become inspiration and icons.(In pic from left: Hima Das, Deepa Malik, Arunima Sinha)

Agencies
All's Well That Sprints Well
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All's Well That Sprints Well

Sprinting from the rice fields of Assam to sports leagues like Asian Games, Hima Das has had a meteoric rise. The youngest of six siblings, she had wanted to pursue football at one point. However, thanks to one of her coaches, she was encouraged to join athletics.

The 19-year-old, who hails from a family of farmers, did not have access to a professional running track. Therefore, she practised on a muddy football field. Das, popularly known as 'Dhing Express', rose to fame after the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia where she put up a great show. Later, she bagged the gold medal in 400m relay event at Asian Games and brought home glory.

The small-town-girl proved that no barrier is strong enough to stop one if one's vision is clear.

BCCL
From Paralysis To Paralympian
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From Paralysis To Paralympian

Raised and married in a family of Army officers, Deepa Malik was taught how to stay strong since childhood. The 48-year-old was diagnosed with a spinal tumour in 1999 and went through three surgeries after that. With 183 stitches in her shoulder blades for a period of 14 years, Malik was left paralysed from the waist down.

Paralysis, however, wasn't strong enough to stop her. She then decided to become a swimmer, athlete, biker and adventure junkie. In 2016, she was one of India's Paralympians at Rio Olympics in 2016.

BCCL
Bend It Like Karmakar
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Bend It Like Karmakar

Not many in India were familiar with gymnastics until Dipa Karmakar put her best foot forward. Born with flat feet, she initially did not seem to have the physical signs of a good gymnast. But rigorous and regular training ensured that the 25-year-old was able to address it.
The girl, who rose to fame after qualifying for the Olympics, now has a tough routine. Eight hours of workout a day, a firm coach and determination to rise above all is how Karmakar became a leading gymnast of the this era.

BCCL
Wonder Woman
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Wonder Woman

Lack of resources is one of the biggest reasons why some of the biggest talents remain unrecognised. However, some do not care for this restraint. Swapna Barman belonged to the latter group of people. Daughter of a van rickshaw puller, Barman was born with six toes in both feet.

Due to this, finding the perfect pair of shoes was a herculean task for her. The extra width caused pain when she wore shoes for too long. The 21-year-old heptathlete also suffered a serious gum infection the night before her final run at the 2018 Asian Games.

She put on a bandage of her face, pulled up her socks and put up a great show at the event. There's more, she even created history by becoming the first Indian woman to achieve the top podium finish in the event.

PTI
Against All Odds
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Against All Odds

Fighting social and financial barriers is tough. For Arunima Sinha, who lost a limb in a train accident, it was even tougher. The Indian mountaineer, who went on to become the world's first woman amputee to climb the Mount Everest in 2013, was dealt a cruel blow. In 2011, when she refused to hand over her gold chain to thugs, the 30-year-old was thrown off a train and consequently lost her left leg. Facing discrimination due to the disability was not good enough to discourage her. Instead, it strengthened her vision of climbing the Mount Everest.

She firmly believes that it is through the biggest tragedies that the human spirit learns how to soar.

BCCL
Dominating The World Of Archery
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Dominating The World Of Archery

24-year-old Deepika Kumari had her own share of hardships trying to pursue a career in archery. The daughter of a rickshaw-puller and a nurse, Kumari does not believe in giving up and motivates others to do the same.

While her parents saw their daughter becoming a doctor someday, she had set her sights elsewhere. Starved of opportunity at first, she joined the Tata Archery Academy at the age of 11. After years of practice and determination, she rose to fame in 2009 when she became the second Indian archer to win the Cadet World Archery Championship title.

BCCL
The Lioness Of Haryana
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The Lioness Of Haryana

Haryana has given us the best of wrestling icons and Sakshi Malik is one of them. The 26-year-old, who grew up in Rohtak which has a skewed gender ratio, was not allowed to pursue wrestling at the beginning. However, Malik, determined to achieve her goal, stepped into an akhada and wrestled with the boys of her village.
Bagging India's first medal at the Rio Olympics 2016, Malik has since been bringing glory to the nation. She showed the world that women no longer stand behind men in the arena of wrestling.

BCCL
Golden Girl
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Golden Girl

Winning has been her habit, even when she was injured. Shooter Rahi Sarnobat, born in Kolhapur, has been a part of the international scene since 2010. While everything seemed to be in her favour initially, an accident in 2013 became a serious hurdle on her way to success. The 27-year-old tripped on an uneven road in Pune and landed on her right arm, injuring it severely. Consequently, she could not rotate her right arm properly. However, the pain just could not stop her from bringing home golds. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Sarbobat bagged the gold medal. At the 2018 Asian Games, too, she created history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a gold in shooting.

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Copyright © 2019 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service