From ‘dabang’ girl to lone Indian judoka at London Olympics

From planting a punch in the stomach of visitors at home to striking fear among the boys of her locality—her “dabang” nature forced her mother to let her take up the sport of Judo and today the entire family is proud of the decision made about 12 years ago.

Written by Wajiha Shah | Lucknow | Published:May 12, 2012 11:26 pm

From planting a punch in the stomach of visitors at home to striking fear among the boys of her locality—her “dabang” nature forced her mother to let her take up the sport of Judo and today the entire family is proud of the decision made about 12 years ago. Garima Chaudhary,22,clinched the continental quota place to be the lone Indian judoka to qualify for the London Olympics.

Garima recalls,“As a child I was always up to some mischief or the other. So when I was about 10 or 11 years of age,my mother Satesh Chaudhary took me to the Kailash Prakash stadium at Meerut so that my energies could be channelised in the field of sports. Though training in basketball,gymnastics and boxing was also in progress there,I got more attracted towards judo. One of my cousins was already a boxing trainee so I did not find anything new in that sport. My mom also thought that judo would give me a chance to fight as well as to remain fit.” Soon after joining the sport,her fighting skills (in the sport) made her participate in the sub-junior nationals at Orissa but she does not want to remember it as she settled for a bronze. “I do not remember the year. I was very upset. One thing that I remember was that I cried a lot as I wanted to win a gold but had to settle for a bronze as I was not well aquainted with the sport.”

Garima confides that she put in a lot of effort and at the age of 14 she was selected for Junior Asian Championships and the same year she participated in the senior trials for the Commonwealth Judo Championships and got selected in that too. “What boosted my morale was that in the senior section I was able to participate in an international level meet first— the Commonwealth Judo Championships at New Zealand in 2004 and then I participated in the senior nationals. I have won many golds at the national level— the last one coming at the Ranchi National Games.” This year Garima participated in senior national championships from Haryana and won a bronze.” “At the international level,in the Junior Asian Championships,I have won a gold,a silver and a bronze in 2007,2008 and 2009,respectively. In the SAF Games held at Colombo I won a gold. I won golds both in the junior and senior category in the Commonwealth championships organised at Mauritius in 2008 besides winning a silver in the Commonwealth championships held at Singapore in 2010. I bagged a bronze in the Martial Art Games held at Bangkok in 2009.”

The Meerut girl is optimistic about her chances at the Olympics. “Like every player aspires,I too want to win a gold but at the same time I know that it will be a tough competition. However,I want to come back home with a medal in my weight category (below 63 kg). I got this feeling that I too can reach the Olympics and shine ever since I won a gold in the Junior Asian Championships in 2007. I have been recovering satisfactorily from the slight injury (muscle pull) I suffered ahead of the Asian Judo Championships held at Uzbekistan,recently in which I stood seventh.” She is full of praise for senior SAI coach Jiwan Sharma who has been grooming her talent at SAI Centre of Excellence,Patiala. Garima,a graduate,feels sorry about the fact that despite shining in the international arena,she and other judokas like her cannot get good jobs. She feels more international exposure can do wonders for the game in India.

Motherspeak

Her mother Satesh Chaudhary,a beautician,her father Rajendra Singh,a transporter and her elder sister Khyati are all very proud of Garima. Her mother confides,“She was a ‘dabang’ since childhood. If ever she saw a boy teasing a girl,she used to warn him in a threathening tone. In judo also,she often trains with boys as girls are often no match to her. She has been very powerful since the very beginning. I just hope that she does well in London.”

Coachspeak

GARIMA’S coach Jiwan Sharma,50,says the fact that she is the lone Indian judoka to be taking part in London Olympics speaks volumes of her talent. “The best thing about her is that she adopts a positive approach towards things. For example,she was quite confident that she will be selected for the Olympics. I still remember how upset she was when almost all players except her had won medals in the Commonwealth judo championships held at New Zealand in 2004 but over the years her attitude has become very positive.

She took due permission from the JFI so that she could train under me at SAI centre of excellence,Patiala. She could be going to Cuba for a month for training. I think training with foreign players will further boost the confidence level in her. In 2010,she got a month-long training from former world and Olympic champion Yamashita Yasuhiro in Japan which has also helped her,” he informed.

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