Pakistan’s ‘Dangal’ sisters flex muscles against gender stereotypes | Amazing

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s powerlifting champions Sybil and Twinkle Sohail have lifted the expectations of the country after their clean sweep in an international championship.

The two sisters won a cumulative of eight gold medals at the Oceania Pacific Powerlifting Championship 2017, which was held in Singapore, bringing laurel to the country.

In 2015, Twinkle became the first Pakistani woman to represent her country in powerlifting, taking a gold medal in the 57-kilogramme junior event at the Asian Bench Press Championship in her first attempt.

Aside Twinke and Sybil, their two other sisters are also training for powerlifting and weightlifting.

Their journey in many ways is similar to that of Phogat sisters in India, whose struggles were shown in Bollywood blockbuster Dangal.

Twinkle and Sybil, while speaking on Geo News programme Geo Pakistan, shared that they had to overcome many hardships to make their mark in the field.

Twinkle also said that their story is often compared to the Dangal sisters as their father motivated them to pursue their dreams. “Like them [Phogat sisters], all four of us also train in different weight categories.”

Sybil shared that their father had to face a lot of backlash from their family members while they were training.

“Papa [my dad] is the eldest in his family due to which he had to hear a lot [regarding us training]. People would say ‘what work are you making your girls do’ and ‘your daughters leave house in their tracksuits’. However, our dad always said that he will support his daughters as much as possible.”

Father as source of inspiration

The powerlifters shared that their father played an integral role in encouraging them to pursue their dreams.

“My father was a cricketer. However, his family hadn’t supported his dream to become an athlete,” shared Twinkle, the younger sibling.

Their father realised the importance of family support when pursuing sports, so he had then decided to support the dreams of his children.

Initially, Twinkle and her brother started training for different sports and with time developed an interest in powerlifting and weightlifting.

“I started training first, then my elder sister [Sybil]. Now, all of us four sisters train,” said Twinkle.

On this, Sybil pointed out: “I was inspired to start training after I saw my younger sister.”

Sharing her training routine, Twinkle remarked that they train for two to three hours in the morning and then for three to four hours in the evening.

Sybil is currently completing her Bachelors in Physical Education from Punjab University. When asked if training affects her education, she explained that it does not as she is also studying the same thing.

‘Coach taught us how to focus’

The sisters also lauded the role of their coach, Rashid Malik, in encouraging them and teaching them how to focus.

“Sir Rashid trains us and provides us with facilities. From different equipment to our kit, he has worked hard to provide us with the best of everything,” said Twinkle. “Sir Rashid wants to promote girls in the field of powerlifting.”

Sybil remarked that she is able to focus on her training because of her coach and family.

“We also want to thank the [powerlifting] federation for stopping us every step of the way,” added Twinkle. 

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