IT is a man’s world, they say. And sports fits rather neatly into this category if one takes into account the kind of money, publicity and recognition that male athletes receive in comparison to women.

However, many high-achieving women during the past several decades have successfully thwarted such discriminatory attitudes with their brilliance on full display in the sports arena.

Also read: Pakistan women boxers make history in Shillong

Illustrious names such as Martina Navratilova, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Nadia Comaneci have matched their male counterparts by bringing as much glory and laurels to their countries, if not more. In Pakistan, too, we have seen our own Naseem Hameed, Sana Mir, Carla Khan, Kiran Baluch, Hajra Khan and others do their country proud with their remarkable feats.

The ongoing South Asian Games in India have seen fair participation by Pakistani sportswomen who have kept pace with the men to lap up a few surprise medals at the extravaganza. Swimmers Lianna Swan and Bismah Khan, squash player Maria Toorpakai, and taekwondo player Yasmeen Maryam have spearheaded the country’s otherwise not so dazzling performance at the games by clinching the gold and silver.

In the limelight, however, are the country’s debut-making women boxers and shooters who pulled off a real coup by bagging bronze medals against a top line-up.

Amid mounting opposition and negligible support from the government and the private sector, the three women boxers Sofia Javed, Khoushleem Bano and Rukhsana Parveen have made it to the Games by dint of their talent and hard work which has earned them high praise from all quarters.

All the more remarkable is the fact that the female boxing trio took up the sport as late as early 2015 and responded wonderfully to some focused coaching by Nauman Karim — himself a bronze medallist at the 2003 World Boxing Championship.

Besides, in a generous gesture, the three women boxers of Pakistan have credited India’s Mary Kom, a five-time world champion who is also competing at the 12th South Asian Games, as their inspiration.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2016

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