Her success is all down to her hard work: coach
Life has not been kind to Sakina Khatun, who won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday.
In Glasgow’s Clyde Auditorium, the 25-year-old Bangalore-based para-athlete lifted a weight of 88.2 kg to finish third in the women’s powerlifting event (Lightweight Group A). It was a success that came after prolonged hardship.
“My parents cried when I broke the news to them on the phone,” she told The Hindu from Glasgow.
Her coach and mentor Farman Basha, who also competed at the Games, faltered in his event on account of an injury, but his delight was enormous. “She has been through a lot. So I’m very happy for her,” he said.
Sakina hails from Basirhat in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district. Her mother is a farm labourer while her father, ailing with a serious back condition, is unable to work. “He can’t even walk,” Sakina said. “We don’t have the money for his treatment.”
Afflicted with polio at a young age, she took up swimming on her doctor’s suggestion, learning in ponds in her village before a teacher in school noticed she had an aptitude for it. “Despite steady success at the national level, I was ignored for the 2010 Commonwealth Games team. It left me disheartened and I quit the sport,” she said.
Sakina switched over to powerlifting on the advice of one of her swimming coaches, and in 2010 was directed to Basha. “She wanted to come over to Bangalore to be trained by me,” he said. “She had no money and I couldn’t afford to spend a rupee on her.”
But Sakina found a benefactor in Dilip Majumdar, a businessman who volunteered to support her training. “I’m a girl and my parents were against my leaving home,” she recalled. “But my sponsor managed to convince them.”
“At first, she could only lift around 25 kg,” recalled Basha. “But gradually she improved. Her success is all down to her hard work.”