Women wrestling is no more a taboo in India: Geeta
Kolkata: First woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympics, Geeta Phogat, 24, is quietly leading a revolution in her remote village Balalli in Haryana which has a skewed sex ratio of just 873 women for every 1000 men.
Guided by her father, Mahavir Singh Phogat, himself a wrestler, Geeta took up wrestling at 10 and grappled with the boys by the time she was 12, during days when wrestling was considered taboo for the women community.
At 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Geeta won gold, while her sister Babita clinched silver as the elder of the duo has not looked back, becoming the first woman wrestler to compete in Olympics at London 2012.
"Maine apne logon ki soch badali hai (I have changed the way people think of women wrestling)," Geeta told PTI.
"In our village women are left to clean the house and milk the cattle so when I first entered the ring, I had to hear the criticism of people... Even my grandmother would tell me that girls should not wrestle, it`s a man`s game," she added.
"Now, they are regretting of what they said earlier as now many more girl wrestlers are coming into fray. It`s competitive and challenging now," Geeta, who had a forgettable year after being ousted in the first round of the World Championship in September, added.
After Geeta and Babita, 22, his third sister Ritu, 20, also has entered the ring as the younger duo won gold medals in 51kg and 44kg categories in the Commonwealth Championship held in Jalandhar in 2009.
Her father is a hard taskmaster and it`s difficult to fool him, Geeta said, giving credit the Senior Phogat.
Asked about the Olympic milestone in 2012, Geeta said it was a lesson for her as she was beaten in her opening fight by the eventual silver medallist Tonya Verbeek of Canada.
"Everybody at the Olympics are almost at level par. I hope to clinch a medal at my next appearance," Geeta, who is here for the national championships, said.
Haryana promotes the sports persons by bestowing honorary police ranks on achieving medal at international stage as Geeta is now a Sub-Inspector.
Geeta is a star in her village of Bhawani district but her father says she has to keep it going till getting an Olympic medal.
"This is just the start and not the end, he keeps on telling me. I`ve seen the success of Mary Kom at the Olympics... We stayed in the same flat. If she can win a medal after being the mother of two, why can`t I?" Phogat signs off brimming with confidence.
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