‘Girls Run the World: Won Four Medals for India as a Powerlifter’
I am 17-years-old and gendered stereotypes cannot deter me!
Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas
Video Producer: Maaz Hasan
My name is Rishitaa Jain. I am 17-years-old and I am a powerlifter. People talk about glass ceilings, and I have tried to break them all by lifting heavyweights in what is considered a male-dominated sport. Not only this, at the age of 16, I won four gold medals for India in the Commonwealth Powerlifting Championship in 2019 held in Canada.
My interest in sports developed when I was in school. Gymnastics, football, cricket, taekwondo... You name it! While I have competed in these sports as well, I didn’t get the hit that I had hoped for.
That was until 2017, when I saw my dad lifting weights as part of his fitness regimen. With the help of my father, and my mentor, Javed Mehta, began my foray into weightlifting.
I won the ‘Strong Girl 2019’ trophy in the Delhi state powerlifting competition. I cleared the nationals and went on to representing my country in Canada.
When I started my practice, many, like my relatives, were not approving of my choice. People criticised me and said I cannot lift weights because I am a girl and powerlifting is something men do. Relatives even told my father to advise me against lifting weights. Girls in my school told me that if I lift weights, I’ll start ‘looking like a man.’
I used to dress simply for school, so girls in my class teased me and said, ‘Oh! You don’t know how to do make-up. Every girl knows how to do it. Oh, you are a guy!’
Fortunately, none of this demotivated me. Instead, I channeled my energy into the sport and gave it my all for the 2019 tournament. This is not to say that I did not struggle. It was stressful and the pressure was mounting. However, my gold medals are proof, I conquered!
I want to tell girls like me to not let anyone tell them that they cannot do something, because they are a woman. There are many girls who are not allowed to play any sport because of the gendered stereotypes we have in our society.
I urge them to pursue their dream, because if not today, then when? Nothing can stop you, definitely not those who think women are the weaker sex.
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