What’s secret of 95–year old Haryana woman who won medals?

Dagar, who was introduced to the world of athletics by her grandson Vikas in January 2022, won three gold medals at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championship in Poland.

New Delhi | Updated: 04 April, 2023 11:07 am IST

Bhagwani Devi Dagar, the nonagenarian Haryana sensation joined athletics just a year back, returned to a rousing welcome in India on Monday after winning three gold medals at an international championship in Poland.

“It feels great to win medals for the country,” exclaimed the 95-year-old athlete – her face brimming with energy.

Speaking to The New Indian, Dagar, in her message to the youth, said, “Play and make your country proud! The youth should participate more in sports.”

Dagar, who was introduced to the world of athletics by her grandson Vikas in January 2022, ran faster than any other athlete in the 100-meter race in the 90-94 age category, winning a gold medal for India at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championship at Torun in Poland.

She also bagged two gold medals in shot put and discus throw in the 95-99 age category at 9th the World Athletics Indoor Championship.

Recollecting her journey as an athlete, her grandson Vikas Dagar, who himself is a successful para-athlete, said, “Dadi was active in sports during her childhood but could not pursue it due to some reasons… In January last year, I took her to a stadium and asked her to throw a shot put.”

“Since then, she has played two championships each at state, national and international levels. She is a national and Asian championship in the 100 meter race. I hope that she will make the country proud by winning medals at the Asian Championship in the Philippines in November this year,” he told The New Indian.

Khel Ratna awardee, Vikas described Dagar’s successful attempt in Poland as a “huge moment for the country”.

Speaking about her lifestyle and fitness habits, her son Hava Singh Dagar said, “She carries a lot of strength even at this stage without any extra care or food regime. She lives a simple life like any ordinary villager does and she eats what everyone in the family eats.”

The elderly athlete was born in Khedka village in Haryana, Dagar got married at the age of 12 and lost her husband when she was 30 years old. After her husband’s death, she decided not to marry again and instead focused on her young daughter and a child she was carrying in her womb at that time.

Having lost a child when her husband was alive, Dagar’s eight-year-old daughter passed away, leaving her with her toddler son Hava Singh Dagar. She took the challenges head on, working long hours in her fields to sustain the family. She successfully brought up her only child who later got a job in the Delhi Municipal Corporation which changed the family’s economic situation.

Dagar later became grandmother to three children. Vikas, the eldest of them, grew up to become a record holder in multiple categories in par athletics.

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