Before 2011, Bhavana Tokekar was known simply as a homemaker, mother of two, and the wife of an Indian Air Force (IAF) officer. However, in 2011, her journey in the field of fitness began. Despite the stereotype that powerlifting is primarily for men in India, Tokekar defied this notion. She challenged gender norms by dedicating herself to bulking up her body and building muscles.
Tokekar's remarkable journey reached a pinnacle when she achieved a remarkable feat at the Open Asian Powerlifting Championships in Russia in July 2019. Despite being 50 years old, she secured four gold medals for India. Her transformation from a homemaker to an international champion is nothing short of inspiring.
In an interview with SheThePeople, Tokekar emphasised that her Powerlifting success was not solely her own accomplishment. She attributed her journey of resilience to her marriage to an Indian Air Force officer, which transformed her life. Through her determination and dedication, Tokekar shattered stereotypes and proved that with strong support, gender or age is no barrier to achieving greatness.
How Bhavana Tokekar Broke Stereotypes In Both Love And Sport
Here’s her story in her own words:
“We first met in Gwalior, where I found myself unexpectedly agreeing to marriage after the recent loss of my brother, despite being known for my discerning nature. Unaware of his profession as a fighter pilot, I said yes to him in our second meeting, feeling as though fate made us do this.
We got married, and amidst my pregnancy, the Kargil conflict unfolded. Choosing to remain in Gwalior to be in touch with my husband through phone calls, I defied the wishes of fellow officer wives, as well as my parents and in-laws, who requested that I stay with them during the war. Determined, I travelled alone to Adampur by train, finding lodging with one of my husband’s coursemates due to the lack of family accommodations.
It was during this time that I gained a deeper understanding of his role and its impact on our nation. A particular incident stands out: my husband’s casual revelation over lunch about his involvement in bombing missions during the Kargil War. I was shocked to learn the truth from others later that day.
From then on, I would wake up with him at 4 AM, requesting that he prioritise safety as he embarked on his missions, though he would often dismiss my concerns with humour.
Witnessing the realities of the war zone with him and later witnessing his bravery recognised with the Vayusena Gallantry Medal filled me with pride. By the time he received the honour on October 8, 2000, our son was 8 months old, a testament to the challenges and victories we faced together.”