Sports are not just for the boys!
For years, girls have been told that it’s not feminine to participate in sports, especially those that require more physical movements or strength like football and kickboxing.
Despite all the negativity against female involvement in sports, we’ve had some amazing ‘wanita besi
’ who’ve made the country proud in the sporting arena.
These women are the role models our girls need and have paved the path for many others to excel in their chosen sport.
Here’s a look at some of the most iconic sportswomen our county has seen over the years.
#1 Datuk Nicol Ann David – Squash Player
It was a sad day for the nation when the most celebrated squash player in the world announced her decision to hang up her racket
However, Nicol’s achievements and contribution to the sports world will definitely be talked about for years and maybe decades to come, and with pride.
In a career spanning 20 years, Nicol has won the World Championships whopping eight times, and she was the first female player to win the World Youth Championship twice. In 2018, her peers voted her as The Greatest of All Time (G.O.A.T).
She also had a 56-match winning streak at the World Championship. Can you imagine the kind of hard work and dedication such achievements require?
Nicol was also the youngest person ever to receive a Datukship from the Penang state government at only 25.
#2 Farah Ann Abdul Hadi – Gymnast
Farah Ann, who happens to be the face of Pantene’s ‘Wanita Besi’ campaign, is no stranger to Malaysians who follow the major sporting events that Malaysia participates in.
Starting her training in gymnastics at only three-years-old, the girl from Subang has represented the country at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games.
She’s won gold, silver and bronze medals in team and individual categories and continues to be actively involved in the sports.
In fact, in a recent conversation with international artist Yuna on Facebook regarding low participation of girls and women in sports, Farah had mentioned her hopes for more women representation in sports.
“Being a national athlete, this isn't new news to me. But I'm glad we are talking about the issues being faced by women in sports.
“I sincerely hope from the bottom of my heart that the sports would get more representation from women, and I hope I can inspire the women of Malaysia,” Farah said in her comments.
#3 Shalin Zulkifli – Bowler
Possibly the greatest and most accomplished bowler in the country to date, Shalin Zulkifli’s achievements are legendary.
She’s won practically every title there is to win in bowling, and even made it into the World Bowling Hall of Fame. No easy feat!
In 2001, Shalin became the first woman to win the World Tenpin Masters after defeating Scandinavian player Tore Torgersen.
She’s won the Malaysian Sportswoman Awards several times, been named Asian number 1, International Bowler of the Year and many other awards on top of all the medals she’s accumulated throughout her career.
Want to become as great a bowler as Shalin? You can start by practicing at her bowling alley at The Curve, Mutiara Damansara!
#4 Ann ‘Athena’ Osman – MMA fighter
There’s no ‘Wanita Besi’ more besi
than Ann ‘Athena’ Osman, that’s for sure!
Ann Osman is one of those women who broke many societal norms and came out as a victor.
She’s the first female Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter to represent the country at international tournaments, and naturally, the first to win as well.
There were ups and downs throughout her short career, but behind both her winnings and losses were Malaysians who were proud to have her representing the nation!
Ann may have retired now, but her contribution to the MMA world and her role in easing the path for others interested in the sport will always be appreciated.
#5 G. Shanti – Sprinter
Well, over 20 years after the end of her career on the tracks, Shanti’s name is still being spoken about and with good reasons too!
That’s because nobody has broken her 100-meter and 200-meter sprint record in all that time.
In 2017, Zaidatul Husniah Zulkifli almost broke the 100-meter record set by Shanti in 1993, but was denied the honor due to technical issues.
Between 1991 and 1998, Shanti had won the nation many gold, silver and bronze medals, especially at the SEA Games. Shanti was also the last Malaysian woman to have won the 100-meter and 200-meter sprint the Games.
It’s no wonder that she is still known as the fastest woman in the country. She has, however, mentioned in several interviews that she’s like to see her record being broken.
This would, of course, involve more participation and training of girls and women in the sports world.
We sure hope Shanti’s wishes will come true.
These women and many more have made the country proud in the global stage, and you can too.
It is time we acknowledge the issues that stop girls and women from participating in sports and overcome them.
So, to encourage women to participate and stay in sports, Pantene is launching its ‘Wanita Besi’ campaign
, which will be held throughout March and it empowers all Malaysian women to Stay Strong, Stay Beautiful, and Stay in Sports
The brand wants women to claim the term ‘Wanita Besi’ or ‘iron lady’ that’s often used as an insult towards ‘unfeminine’ women, and turn it into something positive.
Join Pantene in its quest to make sports - something that’s important for the physical and mental health of every individual – an activity that can be enjoyed by women without reservations!
For more information, follow Pantene Malaysia on Facebook