Bhagwani Devi Dagar poses for photos after his arrival at IGI Airport, New Delhi on Tuesday 12th July 2022 (PTI)

NEW DELHI: Anyone would be thrilled beyond belief to win a bronze medal at a world championship in athletics. Not Bhagwani Devi, 94 years old Dagar. When she won a bronze in shot put at the World Athletics Championships in Tampere, Finland, she exclaimed that she didn’t like the color of metal. But she wouldn’t be denied the color she liked. On July 10, defying her age, she took a gold medal in the 100m sprint before earning her third medal – another bronze – in the discus throw at the event.
People who flocked to congratulate Dagar on her return to Delhi on Tuesday may not realize how many challenges she has overcome to become a world champion. When she was 29 and pregnant, she lost her husband. Her daughter died at the age of 11. In 2007, Dagar underwent bypass surgery. What is also notable in the success of the wrinkled, gray-haired, missing-toothed woman is not only her age, but also the fact that she only started track and field in December last year.
“I had won three gold medals at the state and national championships in India. So, I didn’t know the bronze color and I wasn’t happy with it, ”smiled Dagar, who lives in Najafgarh. He started his training only about six months ago under the guidance of his nephew, Vika Dagar38 years old, a para athlete. Vika he gave her a throwing ball and although she wasn’t immediately in love, she asked for the ball again the next morning. “My grandmother said she wanted to throw the iron ball and I realized she had an innate interest,” Vikas said. “I took her to the Kakrola Stadium, thinking I would see how much she can do.”
There was no way to look back for the non-agenary. Four months after stepping on stadium turf and taking sprints, shot put and discus, Dagar won three gold medals at the Delhi State Championships from April 1-2, and three more at the National Masters Championships from April 26. to May 2nd. she had come a long way since her indulgence in kabaddi as a child in her paternal village of Khedka, Haryana.
Dagar, who studied up to the V-Class, sees Vikas as his model. “I was looking at the wall of our house decorated with the photos and certificates of my nephew. Like him, I’ve earned medals for the country and it’s fantastic, “he beamed.
Unlike other athletes who spend hours every day in rigorous training, the older star trains for an hour two to three days a week. “At her age, we think the warm-up exercises and technique sessions are adequate,” said Vikas, an award-winner of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. “We don’t do rigorous training because my grandmother could be injured due to her age.”
Dagar, of course, is committed to staying fit and healthy. Starting his day at 6am every day, he walks 2km every morning and every evening. “Our house is three stories high and I have to use the stairs to reach the terrace to water the plants,” Dagar said. He only eats homemade food and says, “I survive desi khana and loves milk, legumes, chapatis, vegetables and fruit ”.
The lively woman wants to win the next gold medal in the Indoor Athletics World Championships to be held in Poland in March next year. She has a mischievous nature and when she was asked why she didn’t smile for photographers, she joked that she had no teeth. Then she, like a grandmother, she added: “I want today’s children to run and jump a lot.” Amen!


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