Imtiaz Ahmed / Guwahati
In 2014, Syed Samina Razin picked up a piece of bamboo to learn the art of lifting weights from a power-lifter friend during sports week in JB College of Jorhat in eastern Assam. She picked the basic trick of this sport within minutes and registered her name for the power lifting competition in the college meet. Her confidence came from her experience of lifting heavy bags of rice at home. It took four years for the Golaghat girl to bag medals at the Asian Classic Power lifting Championships in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in 2018.
Hailing from an agrarian family, Samina is not only a power lifter, but also an athlete – an arm wrestler, a volleyball player, a footballer, and a kho kho player. “I can’t stay away from participating in sports,” Samina told Awaz-the Voice.
“I got into the iron game by default. I was a student of JB College in Jorhat.
“Although I did not win a medal there (in her first attempt), the judges asked me if I was professional power lifter. I said no and that it was my first time. They, however, said I looked like a regularly practicing lifter and had the power in my arms and advised me to join a gym for practice.
“However I didn’t join a gym as my parents would not allow me. It was assumed in our society that iron game is detrimental to the health of women.
“However, the next time during the same event the judge told me that I have been given direct entry into the inter-district meet. I was hesitant but when my parents permitted me I participated in the tournament at Titabor without any practice and won a medal,” Samina said.
After winning more medials she was selected to represent Assam in the National Classic Power Lifting Championships at Lucknow in 2018 where she won a gold. This further qualified her to represent India in the Asian meet at Ulaanbaatar the same year.
In Mongolia, Samina won the overall bronze after bagging the silver in dead lift and bronze medals in squat and bench press.
She was also selected for Asia-Pacific Power lifting Championship at Gold Coast in Australia. However, she did not participate due to her financial constraints. “Since the sport is not a recognised by the Olympic charter, we have to bear all our travel and accommodation costs. I could not manage the expenses to participate in Gold Coast. I tried to get financial support from the government but to no avail,” Samina said.
The 25-year-old is presently pursuing her Masters in Physical Education from Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education, Guwahati. She is also working hard to switch to weightlifting, a recognized sports in the Olympics.
Samina was recently conferred the Syeda Dania Taski Award of Excellence by the Assamese Syed Welfare Trust. She says: “This is certainly going to be a huge encouragement and motivation for me to bring more laurels to the state of Assam as well as India. I am overwhelmed.”
Asked if she, being a Muslim girl, has faced any social discouragement in her career in sports, Samina said: “Initially, there were people speaking against a girl taking part in sports. Some objected to my sports gear but, I paid no attention to them. Some people have the habit of being fussy about a woman’s foray into a male-domain. It was because of these factors, one of my aunts had to give up a career in sports in the past.
“It is because of such factors that women used to be backbenchers in sports for long. But, now the women have realised that we are not inferior to the men. That is why, women of Assam have lately been bringing laurels to the nation,” she added.