Sunday Sep 19, 2021
The story of the Indian wrestling sensations, the "Phogat sisters”, was applauded globally after Geeta and Babita won Gold medals in Commonwealth Games. The story also inspired Indian actor Aamir Khan to produce “Dangal” – a movie that made around $350 million.
While the Poghat sisters emerged from the Balali district of Haryana in India, two other girls living at a distance of 450km distance from Balali in Pakistan's Gujranwala are also working to fulfil their father’s dreams.
Khadija Dar, 15, and Shafaq Dar, 16, are daughters of the former national weightlifter and coach Waheed Dar – who always wanted his next generation to do well in weightlifting — the sport that he loved.
“I don’t have a son, so my daughters are taking forward my dream and I am fully supportive of them. I am proud to see them training and very hopeful and confident of their success,” Dar told Geo.tv.
Khadija and Shafaq were initially trained by their father but due to Waheed’s professional commitments, both the sisters joined the Star Weightlifting Academy in Gujranwala – the same academy where Olympian Talha Talib receives training. The Dar sisters are also coached by Muhammad Islam Natiq – the coach and father of Talha.
The sport of weightlifting, despite some great achievements in past, remained in oblivion but a recent performance by Talha Talib at the Tokyo Olympics has given hope to everyone, including the Dar Sisters, that weightlifting will now be recognised in the country.
For the Dar Sisters, the presence of Talha at the academy is morale-boosting.
“I am training with Talha Talib in the academy and being a youngster, I’ve seen his hard work and techniques, he is always around to guide us as well, which boosts my confidence,” Shafaq told Geo.tv.
“Talha is my ideal athlete, his hard work and dedication towards sport inspire us a lot,” she added.
“The way he was supported by the government following the Tokyo Olympics, I am very confident that weightlifting will now be appreciated by the country at every stage,” echoed Khadija, Shafaq’s younger sister.
Both Shafaq and Khadija believe that they’ve inherited this sport from their father and they’re made to become successful in weightlifting.
“My father was a weightlifter and I grew up watching him play this sport and watching him lift the heaviest weights encouraged me to pick this sport as well. I believe that it is my duty to take his legacy to the next stage,” Shafaq said.
“My dad was my first coach, our initial training started at home and then we joined the club where sir Islam is our coach, he is also my first ideal in this sport,” Khadija said.
Both the girls have already started competing at the national level representing different departments and have displayed their skills, however, they’ve bigger goals to achieve, for themselves and for the country.
Shafaq and Khadija have their eyes set on the next South Asian Games and are working hard to prepare themselves for the event.
“To be a top weightlifter, you need to work really hard and learn from your seniors. If you’re working hard then there’s nothing that can stop you,” said Khadija Dar.
“We are preparing ourselves for the South Asian Games and I am confident that I can win the gold medal for Pakistan,” said her elder sister Shafaq.
Their coach Muhammad Islam Natiq, who has coached the likes of Talha Talib, is confident that Dar Sisters can do wonders for the country but added that they’ll need continuous support from the authorities.
“They’ve showcased amazing commitment and dedication towards weightlifting, I am very much impressed and confident that these girls can win medals for Pakistan in future. I am very much hoping that they’ll be on the podium during the next South Asian Games,” said Islam.