The Unstoppable Women of Pakistan in Tough Sports

Discover the unstoppable women of Pakistan challenging norms in unconventional sports and inspiring a new era of athletics.


She clinched two gold, two silver and one bronze

In the sprawling world of sports, Pakistan has long been celebrated for its cricketing legends, weightlifting glory and hockey prowess.

Yet, amid the filled-out stadiums of cheers of fans, there lies a lesser-trodden path, one where the number of Pakistani athletes has been surprisingly low.

Our spotlight is on an extraordinary group of women who are carving their niche in the world of unique and physically demanding sports.

From the snow-clad slopes of skiing to the swift duels in fencing, these are the unstoppable women of Pakistan in fierce sports.

They are rewriting the rules, defying stereotypes, and making history with each stride, swing, or summit.

So, let’s dive into the world of these remarkable female athletes and unravel their incredible journeys.

Fighting

The Unstoppable Women of Pakistan in Tough Sports

While MMA’s challenges are formidable, Pakistan is witnessing the rise of remarkable women who are embracing this demanding discipline and making their mark in a traditionally male-dominated arena.

One name that shines brightly in this constellation of fighters is Anita Karim, a force to be reckoned with in the world of MMA.

With multiple national and international titles under her belt, Anita’s journey in the sport is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Her path to excellence began at a young age, when she committed herself to rigorous training, fuelling her determination to reach the summit of fighting glory.

Another formidable athlete in this narrative is Ayesha Ayaz.

Ayesha made her international debut as Pakistan’s youngest taekwondo practitioner at only 8 years old. 

In 2019, she achieved a remarkable feat by securing a bronze medal for her country at the seventh edition of the Fujairah Taekwondo Open Championship.

Her extraordinary talent has not only left a lasting impact but has also raised the bar for future generations of young athletes, shattering gender stereotypes along the way.

It has led to a growing demand and push for female athletes to pursue MMA and different forms of combat sports.

Some other names that shine out are Emma Khan, Shehzadi Sakhi, and Munawar Sultana. 

Gymnastics 

The Unstoppable Women of Pakistan in Tough Sports

In a sporting landscape dominated by cricket, a hidden gem of determination and grace emerges in Pakistan – gymnastics.

While gymnastics might not enjoy the same widespread recognition in the country, there’s a passionate and resilient community of women working tirelessly to change that.

At the forefront of this movement is Maryam Keerio, a name synonymous with excellence in Pakistani gymnastics.

With an undying love for the sport, Maryam has been Pakistan’s leading gymnast and shining beacon of talent.

Her journey on the international gymnastics stage began in 2010, and since then, she has donned the green and white with pride, representing Pakistan on numerous occasions.

In regional competitions like the South Asian Games, Maryam has shone brightly, adorning herself with medals as she showcases Pakistan’s potential on the gymnastics mat.

Her achievements are not only a testament to her skill but also to the tenacity and passion that fuels her.

However, the road to excellence for aspiring female gymnasts in Pakistan is not without its hurdles.

The Pakistan Gymnastics Federation, grappling with challenges of its own, has struggled to provide adequate training facilities and coaching for the women.

As a result, numerous talented girls find their dreams hindered and their potential untapped.

Yet, despite the odds stacked against them, these dedicated gymnasts continue to somersault, vault, and balance on beams, refusing to let adversity stifle their aspirations. 

Equestrianism

The Unstoppable Women of Pakistan in Tough Sports

In a thrilling leap forward for Pakistan’s sporting history, 2022 saw the emergence of remarkable women in equestrian sports who galloped into the international arena.

The spotlight was firmly on Pakistan’s first-ever women’s polo team at the Women’s Tent Pegging Grand Prix in Jordan.

This historic moment marked the inaugural international appearance of a Pakistani women’s polo team, a testament to their unwavering commitment to the sport.

With three players and one reserve, these remarkable athletes showcased their exceptional skills on a global stage.

But the tale of Pakistani female athletes rewriting the rules doesn’t stop there.

Aisha Nadeem is a trailblazing female jockey, who defies critics to pursue her passion for horse racing.

Her resilience and success in a male-dominated arena have left a lasting mark on the world of sports.

And then there’s Alishba Mohsin, an 18-year-old sensation who made history by becoming Pakistan’s very first female apprentice jockey.

Her meteoric rise serves as a shining example of youthful determination and the boundless potential of women in sports. 

Skating

The Unstoppable Women of Pakistan in Tough Sports

Whilst skating of any kind is tough to learn, there’s one Pakistani woman who is obliterating this sport. 

Meet the extraordinary “Ice Princess” of Pakistan, Mallak Faisal, a dazzling 12-year-old figure skater.

In 2019, Mallak graced the ice at the 24th International Eiscup Innsbruck in Austria, a stage where her skills truly shone.

Competing in the Basic Novice Girls II category, she twirled, leapt, and pirouetted her way into the hearts of the audience and judges alike, ultimately claiming the coveted first position.

Her achievement is all the more inspiring when you consider the backdrop against which she’s achieved such success.

Pakistan, a country where figure skating is far from a mainstream sport, lacks the resources and facilities that are often taken for granted in more established skating communities.

Mallak’s journey is a testament to the growing platform for younger female athletes to pursue their dreams without the confines of tradition, culture or society. 

Swimming

The Unstoppable Women of Pakistan in Tough Sports

Diving into the fascinating world of swimming in Pakistan, our journey begins with Rubab Raza, who became Pakistan’s first-ever female Olympic swimmer.

In 2004, she carried the nation’s hopes on her shoulders at the Athens Olympics, embodying determination and breaking through barriers with every stroke.

Bisma Khan, another stellar athlete, clinched a silver medal at the 2019 South Asian Games in Nepal, leaving no doubts about her capabilities in the pool.

She carried Pakistan’s hopes to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, showcasing the nation’s unwavering commitment to swimming excellence on the global stage.

Following in Rubab, Anum Banday made waves of her own at the 2012 London Games.

Her stellar performance in the Women’s 400m Individual Medley not only left spectators in awe but also shattered records. 

Today, Pakistan’s pool of talent continues to surge with a new generation of gifted female swimmers who are coming through.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, witnessed their prowess firsthand.

Jahanara Nabi, a name that’s been setting the water on fire, has left a trail of national records in her wake.

Her global debut at the Commonwealth Games is an exhilarating chapter in her journey, where the world witnesses her swimming prowess.

Within that year, she clinched two gold, two silver and one bronze medal at the Thailand National Championships.

Skiing

The Unstoppable Women of Pakistan in Tough Sports

In the world of winter sports, an unexpected narrative unfolds in Pakistan, a country not traditionally associated with skiing. 

Our story begins with Anmaar Habib, whose historic moment in 2002 marked a turning point for Pakistan.

She proudly carried the title of the first Pakistani woman to compete in any international ski event, becoming a trailblazer in the truest sense.

Her journey epitomises the spirit of breaking barriers and daring to venture into uncharted territory.

But Anmaar is not alone in this incredible journey.

Ifrah Wali stepped onto the ski scene and immediately made waves by clinching victory in the Giant Slalom event at the inaugural South Asian Winter Games held in India.

Her success story continued to gain momentum when she triumphed again in 2011 at the South Asian Games, conquering her sister, Amina, and even an Indian competitor.

The rivalry and camaraderie between the Wali sisters symbolise the unwavering spirit of Pakistani women in sports.

Amina Wali, just like her sister Ifrah, is an exceptional alpine skier who shares the distinction of being the first woman, alongside her sister, to win an international medal in skiing for Pakistan.

It’s important to note that skiing in Pakistan is still in its nascent stages, with a lack of infrastructure and resources compared to more established skiing destinations.

However, these pioneering women are shattering norms, proving that sheer determination can overcome the most challenging circumstances.

As these fearless women gracefully navigate the slopes and challenge the conventions of their homeland, they are paving the way for future generations of Pakistani female skiers. 

Football 

The Unstoppable Women of Pakistan in Tough Sports

In Pakistan, there is an exciting and growing community of talented female football players who are changing the game.

These athletes are not just competing; they’re breaking boundaries and proving that Pakistan’s passion for sports extends far beyond the cricket pitch.

Leading the charge is Hajra Khan, a remarkable footballer who has been honing her skills since childhood.

She has been at the helm as the captain of the national team since 2014, a testament to her leadership and prowess on the field.

Her journey through the beautiful game mirrors the rise of women’s football in Pakistan.

On the defensive front, Abiha Haider stands as a formidable force.

Her performance played a pivotal role in Pakistan’s victorious clash against Maldives, underlining her contributions to the national team’s success.

And then there’s Zulfia Nazeer, a midfielder renowned for her swift thinking and impeccable passing skills, shaping the rhythm and flow of the game.

However, the story doesn’t stop here.

The Pakistani football landscape also boasts stars like Nadia Karim, a midfielder who has represented Pakistan in international tournaments such as the SAFF Championship and the Asian Games.

Her contributions have steered the national team towards victory on numerous occasions, showcasing the spirit and skill that Pakistani women bring to the beautiful game.

When talking about record-breaking achievements, Maria Khan shines as one of the brightest stars.

In 2018, she became the first Pakistani woman to score a hat-trick in an international football match.

Fast forward to January 2023, and Maria achieved yet another milestone with a stunning free-kick during Pakistan’s match against hosts Saudi Arabia in the Four-Nations Cup.

Her remarkable goal quickly went viral on social media, catapulting her to overnight stardom in Pakistan.

The spotlight on Maria’s achievement not only celebrated her skill but also drew attention to the immense potential of women’s football in Pakistan.

In this rapidly evolving landscape, these exceptional athletes are not only scoring goals on the field but also scoring victories for gender equality and the recognition of female footballers from Pakistan. 

Fencing

The Unstoppable Women of Pakistan in Tough Sports

Fencing remains a lesser-known gem and it’s here that we discover a determined group of women who are striving to make their mark.

Aisha Muhammad stands as a shining example of this burgeoning movement.

She’s not only a national-level gold medallist but also a crucial member of the national team representing the Pakistan Fencing Federation.

Her accomplishments underscore the talent and dedication of Pakistani women who are forging a path in this unique sporting arena.

However, it’s important to recognise the hurdles these pioneering women confront in their quest for fencing excellence.

Fencing is far from a mainstream sport in Pakistan, and female athletes encounter numerous challenges along the way.

One of the most formidable of these obstacles is the glaring lack of resources and investment in proper facilities and coaching. 

It’s a stark reminder of the uphill battle they face in their pursuit of fencing greatness.

Mountaineering

The Unstoppable Women of Pakistan in Tough Sports

Among Pakistan’s mountainous landscapes, two extraordinary Pakistani women have made a global name for themselves.

Their remarkable endeavour reached its pinnacle on July 22, when Samina Baig and Naila Kiani stood atop K2, the world’s second-highest peak, towering at a colossal 8,611 meters.

In this monumental feat, Samina marked her place in history as the first Pakistani woman to conquer this formidable mountain.

Her previous achievements include becoming the youngest Muslim woman to conquer Mount Everest in 2013 and the first Pakistani woman to scale seven summits across seven continents in an astonishing eight months.

Hailing from the remote Hunza valley, Samina’s remarkable journey is a testament to her unshakable spirit.

She serves as a luminous source of inspiration, actively encouraging young women to reach for the skies, even in the traditionally male-dominated realm of mountaineering.

As the narrative of Pakistani mountaineers unfolds, May 14, 2023, emerges as another historic date.

On this day, Naila Kiani became the second Pakistani woman to conquer Mount Everest.

In their breathtaking and often perilous journeys to reach these unparalleled heights, Samina Baig and Naila Kiani serve as trailblazers for aspiring adventurers.

However, they are pushing the boundaries for women to strive in unconventional settings. 

Mountaineering can be one of the toughest sports in the world, with its harsh weather, unpredictable terrain and extreme toll on the body. 

However, these women are showing that they can thrive in these settings, further cementing Pakistani female athletes on the map. 

In a nation where cricket has been a dominant force for decades, these women are pioneers who have dared to venture beyond the boundaries of convention.

They have taken to sports that, until now, were on the fringes of the Pakistani sporting landscape.

The dearth of resources, the scarcity of facilities, and the lack of widespread recognition are just obstacles they’ve overcome in their pursuit of excellence.

The sports they’ve chosen may be unconventional in the Pakistani context, but their stories resonate universally.

These remarkable athletes are not just redefining their own boundaries; they are pushing Pakistan’s boundaries on the global stage.

As they continue to rise and inspire, they pave the way for future generations of Pakistani women who dare to dream beyond convention. 

Balraj is a spirited Creative Writing MA graduate. He loves open discussions and his passions are fitness, music, fashion, and poetry. One of his favourite quotes is “One day or day one. You decide.”

Images courtesy of Instagram.




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