KARACHI: Nineteen-year-old Twinkle Sohail became the first woman from Pakistan to win an international gold medal at the 2015 Asian Bench Press Championships, outshining athletes from 12 other countries at the Sultan Qaboos Stadium in Muscat, Oman on Friday.
Twinkle featured in the 47kg junior U21 event, triumphing after securing six white flags from the judges after passing all three lifts perfectly. India and Turkmenistan secured silver and bronze respectively.
The Lahore-based powerlifter, who is part of Pakistan’s Christian community, said the achievement was priceless; two years of her tireless efforts in the gym had finally paid off.
“I’m extremely happy, I’m excited, and I’m proud,” a very soft-spoken Twinkle told The Express Tribune. “I was a little nervous before coming here and competing at the top level in the continent. But I kept my nerves in check and I just knew that I had to perform well. I maintained my focus and now I’m a winner in my category. I still can’t believe I’ve become the first female Pakistani powerlifter to win something this big. I’m still processing the feat.”
Twinkle said that she always wanted to make a name for Pakistan and herself in sports; she used to be a cyclist but chose powerlifting two years ago. “I was a cyclist but I switched to powerlifting as it’s more competitive, and now a gold medal proves that I made the right decision. The coaches and the trainers have helped me a lot.”
Meanwhile, coach and teammate Rashed Malik said that Twinkle has surprised everyone on her debut.
He added that there is a good chance for Pakistan to secure more medals on Saturday with female athletes Sonia Azmat and Shazia Butt, along with their male counterparts Mehmood Heera and Nadeem Hasmi and Malik himself, ready to challenge their opponents in the Masters category.
“Our female athletes lack in style but they make up for everything with their hard work and diligence. Twinkle was extremely careful in her performance — very calculated and managed to lift weights beyond her capacity too. We are now hoping for the best from Sonia and Shazia,” added Malik.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2015.
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