The article “Release and renewal: Ando’s life full of joy, challenges” in the Jan. 4 edition made me proud that I learned to skate in Nagoya (when I was a student there), on the same ice rinks that the champion frequented.
When I was growing up as a teenager in small-town India, I badly wanted to learn to roller skate but was told that I was too old. It was not until I lived in Nagoya and met a wonderful friend who played ice hockey that I had even remote thoughts of ever being able to skate. And I finally did learn even though I was in my late 20s.
When I could still barely walk on the ice and move around a wee bit on wobbly feet, I asked my teacher whether I would ever be able to glide on the ice more smoothly. Thankfully, there was a lady in her 60s who was trying to learn at the same time. My teacher reasoned that since she could do it in a few months, I could too with a bit more patience. I believe this pep talk was no less important than the training itself.
However, it was shocking to know that Ando was criticized for trying to compete after she became a mother. That’s what happened to India’s now famous female boxer Mary Kom. People wrote her off after she had children and she had to struggle to get back in the fray.
Gender discrimination can only be avoided through better education. It is an essential requirement for building a modern society. I hope the biographical movie “Mary Kom” provides inspiration. Maybe someone will think of making a movie on Miki Ando, too. It’s a good way of bringing up social issues.
Japan has the ingredients for achieving gender equality. For example, high school baseball has many fans even though the players are not yet professional. People even support weaker teams most vociferously even though they may not stand a chance of winning.
As the word “gambatte” denotes, the process of trying hard is often appreciated here. Why can’t that be for women as well?
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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