2002 was the year that the first two girls were allowed to train with the boys at the famous Chotu Ram stadium in Rohtak. This move happened out of fluke, however the girls proved their mettle and in just 13 years, women wrestlers have put Haryana’s name on the world wrestling map. The two girls, Kavita and Sunita were first allowed by the then Haryana Sports Department coach, Ishwar Singh Dahiya.

At that time, Dahiya invited much flak for his move of including girls in the same stadium where boys practised, with former wrestlers and coaches saying things like “goats stay with lion.”

“In the last edition of the Senior National Women’s Championships, every fourth medallist was a product of the Rohtak centre. Of the 32 medals at stake, eight were won by wrestlers from the centre — Sakshi, gold, Nikki, Ritu and Suman, silver each for Haryana, Pinki and Rekha Kadiyan, bronze each for Delhi, Neetu, bronze for Chandigarh, and Sudesh, bronze for Bengal,” reports Hindustan Times.

Dahiya is proud of the achievements brought home by the girls. He said that girls who were once disallowed from entering the premises of the stadium have now become the pride of the place.

Kavita was the first female to enter the global forum in wrestling. She represented India at the Junior International Friends Championship held in Turkey and won gold medal in the competition. Suman became the second one to prove that Chotu Ram Stadium did not make a mistake in taking them for training. She became the sub-junior Asian champion in Kyrgyzstan.

“Getting government jobs became a source of motivation for the girls to come into wrestling. More than 30 girls from the centre have got jobs in various departments, including Haryana Police, Railways, etc. Last year, nine wrestlers, including two girls, from the center got in as coaches in the Haryana sports department and one girl got a job in the Sports Authority of India,” says Dahiya, states Hindustan Times.

Haryana has been the main domain of sportspersons including women finding way into their sports of interest. Women like Saina Nehwal, who is breaking records after records in badminton, Sita Gussain, Suman Bala, Savita Punia of Hockey, Geeta Phogat, Suman Kundu of wrestling have been winning awards not only at the national level, but global too. All these women proved that the place and its prejudices don’t matter if you have the passion to break the barriers and achieve what you desire.

Picture Credit- NDTV