When Maria Toor Pakay was 12, she won a regional weightlifting championship in Pakistan. She was the only girl in the tournament but because the Taliban controlled her home region of South Waziristan, Pakay had to disguise herself as a boy to compete. The weightlifting title led to other athletic opportunities, and Pakay excelled in squash while continuing to hide her gender with her father's help.
By the time she was 15, Pakay had decided to end the rouse, and competing against girls, she won the national championship in squash. That also led to death threats from the Taliban, which takes a hard line against females playing sports, going to school or pretty much participating in any public activity.
When she was 18, Pakay received an offer to train with former world champion Jonathan Power in Toronto. That meant leaving her family behind in Pakistan. Her father gave his blessing. "He said, 'OK, if you wanna play, just leave the country. That's all you can do,' " Pakay says.
Now 22, Pakay has moved up to No. 49 in the world squash rankings. HBO's "Real Sports" has an in-depth feature on Pakay and her family in its latest edition that premieres 10 p.m. ET/PT Tuesday. Here is a snippet:
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