At the V.K. Krishna Menon Indoor Stadium on Sunday, M.M. Dilna was adjudged the best woman lifter at the Kerala State powerlifting championship. For someone who took up the sport just two years ago, at the age of 28, that is quite a feat.

The Kozhikode-based physical education teacher's story is indeed an inspiring one. She was already a mother of two when she began to lift weights, for the first time in her life.

She has been pursuing her career with remarkable determination ever since. Last year, she won the gold at the Asian classic powerlifting championship in Mongolia, in the 72 kg category. That was after winning the bronze medal at the National championship.

“All this looks like a dream,” says Dilna. “I never thought I would compete in a World championship in Sweden or win an Asian medal.”

She says she owes her success to E. Shami, the Sports Council coach, who introduced her to the sport, and Anil Kumar, who trains her at Gold's Gym.

“Though I used to be a hammer-thrower during my school days, powerlifting was something I had little idea about till I met Shami at a function two years ago,” says Dilna.

Shami describes her ward's achievement in such a short span of time as amazing. “I thought Dilna had some potential when I saw her body,” she says. “I haven't seen many lifters working so hard and single-mindedly.”

Dilna says she is also obliged to the school she works at, Al-Harmain English School in Puthiyangadi. “My school has been very supportive,” she says. “There were of course people who were bemused when I decided to take up sport at a time when many think of retirement.”

She has proved all those sceptics wrong. In some style.