One of the toughest gigs in sports is to be a successful female athlete- that too in Asia.
The world's largest continent is home to a distinctively male-dominated society – a disparity that becomes even more prominent in the world of sports.
The region's overall economic constraints, lack of training facilities for athletes and cultural hurdles mean that each time an Asian woman swaps her household duties for a trip to the playground, she is fighting against all odds.
Absent from this equation is also the natural athleticism that most of their African counterparts have genetically.
But despite a plethora of forces holding them back, women in Asia still manage to break free of those shackles from time to time, and achieve all-out excellence in their sport.
Here are five such stars that every Asian has to be proud of:
China's Li Na has done for Asian tennis what no other human being ever has and probably never will. This recently retired tennis champion's first major career battle was with her own country's ever controlling sports setup. She went against the advice of national coaches and shed their primitive training methods for proven Western ones. She then battled some major injuries before winning nine WTA and two single's Grand Slam titles – a feat no other Asian (man or woman) has ever achieved.She means so much to China that at her retirement press conference even journalists were crying – male journalists.
Mary Kom is an Indian boxer from the impoverished northeast state of Manipur, where malnutrition and economic hardship is rampant. Despite the financial obstructions in her way and the nonexistent state support, she is a five-time World Amateur Boxing champion. She is also the only female fighter to have won a medal in all of the six world championships. As Tupac Shakur would say, she truly is a rose that grew from concrete.
Taiwan is not a country you usually associate with excellence in golf. However, this tiny East Asian county is home to one of the brightest young female golfers in the world. At the tender age of 25, Yani Tseng is a five-time majors champion and was officially the top ranked female player until last year.
This professional squash player hails from a part of Pakistan that is culturally very conservative for women. Moreover, the region she was born in has been infested with the Taliban militancy for years. Yet, it hasn't stopped her from turning pro and becoming her country's number one squash player.
The dominance of South Korea's Kim Yunain figure skating was such that she always secured a minimum of podium finish in competitive games. From Olympic Gold to world championships, "Queen Yuna" achieved almost everything she could in her sport before retiring at 24.
Yip Pin Xiu
At the 2008 Summer Paralympics, Singapore's Yip Pin Xiu not only won her country's first ever gold medal of the competition, she set world records in both the 50 meters backstroke and freestyle. She made her country proud, but more importantly brought some much-needed attention to the disabled athletes of the region.