Rabia Shahzad is a medal-winning power athlete from Pakistan.
The 20-year-old from Karachi has won medals at international powerlifting competitions including a silver in the 52kg category at the Asian Bench-Press Powerlifting Championship held in Dubai earlier this year.
Her most recent achievement was taking home top honours in the 55kg category at the Ralph Cashman Open Weightlifting Championship in New South Wales, Australia.
“I am happy to be the first female Pakistani to win a medal at an Olympic weightlifting competition,” Rabia, who wishes to represent Pakistan at the Asian and Olympic levels, told Geo.tv.
The athlete’s goal of representing Pakistan at future international events isn’t without hurdles. “Our federation does not send our entries. I wanted to enter the Asian Powerlifting Championship but the secretary of the powerlifting federation Mr Rashid Malik did not send my entry.”
“I was deprived of taking part in the competition and winning a medal for my country.”
Faced with a lack of support from the federation, Rabia took matters into her own hands.
“When I could not take part I searched for competitions which I could enter on my own and found the one in Australia. I request that if we are using our own finances to take part in competitions, at least send our entries.”
For Rabia, it was difficult to stay motivated as she struggled to find support from officials. “When Mr Rashid Malik said he won’t send my entry I would feel like why am I training. What’s the point if I won’t enter a competition?"
Fortunately, the 20-year-old did not lose hope, and instead started looking for competitions where she could take part without an official entry being sent by the federation.
Rabia credits her family, especially her father, for being the driving force behind her success. “In Pakistan, it is very important to have the support of your family, especially the father.”