This 23-year-old girl is referred to as an ‘iron lady’ of Kujjar village for her acclaimed position of being the first gold medalist from Jammu and Kashmir to emerge winner in powerlifting championship in Haryana city of Karnal this year.
Arifa Bilal is the first female from Jammu and Kashmir who won a gold medal in powerlifting. Apart from being the first female powerlifter gold medalist at National level, Arifa has also won three more gold medals.
She also has to her credit a Black Belt rank in Sqay Martial Arts and has won five gold medals in the game. Besides, one more gold medal in volleyball added to the shelf of her awards and rewards. Apart from becoming the first girl from Jammu and Kashmir to bring laurels in the field of powerlifting, she is also the first female gym trainer in Ganderbal district.
An under-graduate student, Arifa has become the first female gym trainer as she instructs both men and women. Arifa also runs free coaching for girls in Martial Arts.
Right from childhood Arifa was interested in martial arts. “I wanted to do something unique, something that requires hard work. I didn’t mind choosing a game which is meant for boys. I enjoy what I was do,” she said.
It was in 2012 when Arifa joined Academy of Martial Arts in Ganderbal where her coach SaleemPathan trained her. She played around five nationals wining five gold medals in the game.
After seeing Arifa’s interest and achievement in sports, she was offered an opportunity as a trainer at one of the district gym centre.
Arifa’s parents, despite being illiterate and financially weak, have been supportive of her career choices. Arifa’s father owns a small shop in the village and mother is a homemaker.
“I didn’t have a penny in my pocket when I was selected for Nationals in Powerlifting but managed somehow and decided to travel to Haryana by road. The highway was shut due to harsh weather conditions and as a result I returned back,” she said.
“My coming back shocked our gym owner DrTanvir who managed the air travel and took care of all of the expenses. I came back with a Gold Medal by lifting 100 Kg in the Weightlifting event,” Arifa said.
“I have struggled a lot. From my tournaments to college expenses, I manage everything by myself with all the little money I have,” she added.