Powerlifting Gives Me Leverage To Look At Life Differently: Arathi Arun
A Dental Surgeon by profession, Chennai-based Arathi Arun is also a Powerlifting champion. In latest, she won gold medal in Asian Powerlifting Championship 2019 in Hong Kong last month. She started off in the field of powerlifting in 2017. During this short span, she has won many accolades in the sport in both international and national meets. Earlier this year in February, she had won first place in M-1 Category in All India Federation Cup Powerlifting Championship held in Kolkata.
Additionally, she has been honoured with various titles like “Strong Woman” by Tamil Nadu state and Chennai District Powerlifting Championships. She has also been awarded the “First Master Women” title by Tamil Nadu when she won “Best Lifter Award” in a national championship in 2018. She is a silver medallist in National Powerlifting Championships and also won a silver in South India Championship (Senior Category) held at Puducherry in January 2019.
SheThePeople.TV catches up with 43-year-old Dr Arun.
Being a Dental Surgeon, what inspired you to enter the field of powerlifting?
After the birth of my second child, I got into a fitness regimen to lose the extra weight. My gym buddies motivated me and also I was fascinated by how they power-lifted. Social media too gave me the confidence I needed and so I took up the challenge at a age when most women consider taking some time off from daily fitness routine. I wouldn’t say I dared myself into doing so or the road was smooth while starting at such a matured age but I was inspired by the way this sport gave me a leverage to look at life differently.
After seeing other sporting teams perform brilliantly at international events, what do you think India lacks in terms of appreciating all kind of sports?
Like other sporting teams Indian powerlifting team has also performed brilliantly in the Asian Powerlifting Championship at Hong Kong. But it is a true that powerlifting lacks popularity when compared to other sports. The infrastructure facilities provided to the game from the government needs a face-lift.
It would be great if a gym or academy is opened in Chennai for qualified trainers. Also, in order to appreciate its sportsperson the Tamil Nadu government should consider appointing power lifters in government jobs through sports quota as followed by other states. A government hospital with a sports doctors’ service and a physiotherapist should be made available too. But the major issue faced by women power lifters is to raise funds to participate in international meets.
What is your core passion and long term vision?
Powerlifting is my passion and I have a long way to go. You can say I have an insatiable thirst for attaining bigger heights. Since I have started late I need to work harder than others. So my focus and commitment is consistent here.
Do you struggle to get sponsors to continue with your passion?
Almost all the power lifters including me are struggling for funds especially when it comes to participating in international meets. We get a limited amount from the authorities the rest has to be taken care by the lifters themselves. I feel disappointed and let down after representing India at the Asian level for not receiving enough appreciation for my efforts. Having spent more than 2 lakhs from my earnings, and even after winning laurels for the country, the government has not sanctioned any grant to me so far.
As compared to us sportspersons from almost all other games are granted aid directly by the government. I feel betrayed. I have been selected for the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championship which is slated to be held at Canada in September 2019. But it requires more than 2 lakhs to attend. I am hoping that this time the government may offer me some financial aid. I am also looking for private sponsorship.
What are the biggest challenges that came your way?
The challenge for any sportsperson is the continuation of a balanced training. To be able to strengthen ourselves while avoiding injury requires proper management. Time management without affecting my profession, taking caring of my family and kids are the other issues I face on a day-to-day basis.
What is your take on women sportsperson and gender discrimination in our country?
I have not faced any kind of major gender discrimination issues in the field of powerlifting so far. But the presence of women in the official capacity of refereeing, coaching and administration is very less in the field of powerlifting as compared to men.
What are the chances for girls to take up the sport? Do they get as much exposure?
Our sport has 35% participation of women at every level. Lot of outstanding women lifters have jobs in Central Government sectors but being a non-Olympic game it does not get us much popularity and exposure like other games. So in my opinion the state government should also take steps and study the privileges provided to women sportsperson in other states and issue similar orders to improve the chances of women in this field.
My advice to the aspirants is to dedicate, deliver and sustain. Strengthen you body, mind and muscle first, get noticed and play with correct techniques and styles of the game.
What would be your advice for the girls who aspire to be a sportsperson?
It is double the challenge when a woman wants to stand up and say she wants to lift big weights and create records. People hardly have faith in her and doubt her. So I advise girls to mould their mind, be ready to do some serious sports and set a high aim. Being mentally and physically confident is another suit of armour women need to wear.
Feature Image Credit: Arathi Arun