Tokyo Olympics Medal Tally: Why We Are Celebrating The Female Athletes

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Women in Olympics: In the ongoing Tokyo Olympics 2020, Indian female athletes have once again proven that women are capable of ruling the sports arenas.

So far, India has won a silver and a bronze medal. Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu won the former and Badminton player PV Sindhu, the latter. But as we applaud them for proving their mettle should we shame the males if the women athletes triumph on the medals tally? As we speak Wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya has entered a gold medal match opening the account for male athletes in the medals tally for India.

When we pat the backs of women for their laurels, we are in no way belittling the male champions. The only reason we are celebrating the sportswomen is that they have had to overcome much more than strenuous practice sessions. India is a country where women have to fight doubly hard to make it big in the field of sports, an area traditionally dominated by men.

The hurdle of marriage for women in the Olympics

Believe it or not, marriage still acts as an obstacle for many women. They have to give up everything they love solely to focus on their family and children. Moreover, even women from well off families are often forced into getting married, thereby sacrificing all their dreams. Discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur revealed to Scroll that in her village, women are under the pressure to get married and she wanted to avoid that fate. This is why she took up sports and was determined to make an identity of her own.

Similarly, the six- times World Champion MC Mary Kom opened up in 2019 that it was not easy for her to make a comeback after getting married and having children. She had to struggle a lot after becoming a mother. The political situation in Manipur just doubled up her troubles. But she was determined to not quit until she achieved her dreams.

“Women don’t play sports wearing a skirt.”

Hockey player Rani Rampal‘s father worked as a cart-puller and her mother was a house help. She wanted to “escape” from such a life. But her family was not in favour of women wearing skirts and engaging in sports. She had to make her way through pleading and persuasion. It is clear that women’s hardships are much more than just struggling to have a career. They battle against the societal pressures of “being a woman”.

Why do women in Olympics still have to overcome the backlash from society?

Badminton player PV Sindhu, considers herself “lucky” to wear what she wants while she’s playing. But why should she have to feel so? It’s because we cannot accept women having an agency over their bodies even if they are inspiring and empowering the youth of the country.

Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu went on to give India its first silver medal this year. But the weightlifter’s journey was not an easy one. She would lift logs for firewood as a child. Chanu also faced a mental breakdown after she failed to win the 2016 Rio Olympics and had to take the help of a psychologist to get back on her feet. Read her story here.

In conclusion, all I would like to say is that women should not have to face oppression to make a career. Their families should not restrict them thinking them to be inefficient because of their gender. The fight against patriarchy is long-standing but it has to end now. We can’t afford to lose talented sportspersons because the society decides to clip their wings and limit their opportunity to grow.

The views expressed are the author’s own.