Women who take up sports and fitness are often told they shouldn't bulk up, or that building muscles makes them "unladylike". And while the number of women in sports is gradually increasing, we rarely see older women explore the field. This is where 47-year-old Bhavana Tokekar, a mother of two teenagers, defies the norm.
On July 14, Bhavana Tokekar, who hails from Maharashtra, won four gold medals at the Open Asian Powerlifting Championships organised by the World Powerlifting Congress (WPC), in Chelyabinsk, Russia. She took part in the 'Under 67.5 Masters 2' category (45-50 age group), and this was her first-ever competition.
In a blog where she describes her weight-loss journey, Bhavana says she started her fitness journey in 2011, to combat the side effects of a medicine she was prescribed. She first took to cycling, and eventually shifted to a gym in 2012. Married to a pilot in the Indian Air Force, Bhavana was motivated by IAF bodybuilders to try weightlifting. She says she initially had inhibitions about looking overtly muscular and masculine, but some online research helped put these misconceptions aside.
"I am now convinced that weight training has a multitude of benefits and does give you a fit body, healthy mind, a positive attitude, and, most importantly, it helps in confidence building."
Bhavana is also a long-distance runner (8-10km) and has taken part in a few marathon events.The gold medallist regularly posts videos of herself weight-training on Instagram, leaving her followers awestruck at her strength, and inspiring many to pursue their fitness journeys.
This year, we have seen a number of Indian women excelling at sports and making the country proud. To highlight a few significant victories, Hima Das won four gold medals in 15 days at various events across Europe this month, breaking records along the way. On July 9, Dutee Chand became the first Indian woman to win the gold at a track event in the World Universiade in Italy. Vinesh Phogat won the gold at wrestling events in Istanbul and Madrid.
We hope that our women continue to shine and inspire many others to scale greater heights in the future.