Bhavna Tokekar, a 47-year-old mother of two coming from Maharashtra, has not only shifted the way we look at motherhood but also the way we think about weightlifting and age.
What’s the proper age to start something new anyway? While many of us give up on the idea of learning a new skill or developing a new hobby on reaching our 20s, Bhavna fed her new liking towards weight training when she was 40 with her 2 kids already having hit teenage!
According to sources, it was 6 years ago when Bhavna started training at the gym to battle the side effects of the medication she was having to deal with skin inflammation. And now she is a powerlifting champion who recently won 4 gold medals at the Open Asian Powerlifting Championships of AWPC/ WPC at Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Sunday.
With a husband who is a fighter pilot at the Indian Air Force, Bhavna was introduced to the idea of weight lifting by members of the IAF bodybuilding team.
“There are many myths surrounding body building, weight lifting and other strength sports, especially related to women, like it is meant only for young people and that it makes the body bulky. I started training initially when I was 41, but I wanted to be sure of it since I didn’t want to injure myself or do the wrong technique since weight lifting is not popular here”, said Bhavna.
Bhavna was a full-time homemaker who was also quite the internet-baby. She spent a lot of time reading about weight lifting online and watched videos for the same. After joining the gym, she has been constantly training and hasn’t missed a day since.
One day, scrolling through Instagram, she came across Mohammed Azmat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh head of World Powerlifting Congress (WPC). After being inspired by his videos, she decided on getting in touch with him.
“Taking part in competitions was a far cry for me, as I didn’t know if I could participate in events at this age, or if I would be able to match up to the standards. I clearly remember the day I messaged him, it was February 10 and I casually asked him if I could participate in the powerlifting event as a part of team India. Now, powerlifting is very different from weight lifting and hence, when Azmat sir replied that I could come and give trials, I was overwhelmed”, she said.
After appearing for the trails, Bhavna got selected for the Masters2 category (45-50 years of age). After undergoing technique corrections and learning new rules and regulations, she appeared for the competition in Russia. Not being sure if she could perform well in a world-wide platform, she was exhilarated on bagging her gold medals. Her best lifts were Squat – 85kg, Bench – 62.5kg and Deadlifts – 120kg.
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My GOLD MEDAL performance in Asian powerlifting championship 2019 Chelyabinsk Russia. This wouldn't have been possible without you @power_beard ,well there are no words to describe how thankful I am…..for all the support nd guidance throughout the preparations and during the Championship even when you URSELF were going through a bad time personally nd that u were urself competing too….hats off for that……..😍😍😍😍😍😍😍
“I initially started this to increase my strength, but now I enjoy weight training. My family supported me in this endeavour and they are my pillars of strength. They helped me follow my training and also came to train with me to the gym. I wish there is more awareness about strength sports in the country”, she said.
Bhavna is an example of how age is just a number and being a mother doesn’t necessarily mean that a woman has to give up on her interests. We hope her story inspired many!