In June this year, parents of budding wrestler Sonali Todkar, who hails from a small village in Beed, had approached her coach and insisted on discontinuing her training. They wanted to take her back to the village to help them in farming.
However, Todkar’s coach Dinesh Gund managed to convince her parents to allow her to continue. Four months later, Sonali, 19, won the silver medal in the National Senior Wrestling Championship held in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya.
The championship, held from October 22 to 25, saw wrestlers from 28 states participating in it.
In the 58 kg-category, Todkar had her first bout with a wrestler from Rajasthan, followed by a bout with a participant from Uttar Pradesh. In the third bout, she outsmarted a Delhi-based wrestler, but lost her final bout against Manju, a wrestler from Haryana.
Manju had won the gold medal in the same championship last year.
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Todkar’s coach Gund said, “Her performance was very good. Her cross-leg attack is very natural. Sonali is very hard working and trains for three hours each in the morning and in the evening. It’s a great achievement given her background. Her parents are farmers and struggle to make ends meet. I hope they allow her to continue her education and her game.”
Todkar is one of the 42 girls whom Gund trains in wrestling at the Jog Maharaj Vyayamshala in Alandi. The centre has been recently identified by the Maharashtra State Wrestling Association (MSWA) as the main one in the state to train women wrestlers for ‘Mission Olympic 2020 and 2024’.
Happy with her performance, Todkar says, “In my village Mangrol, only two girls used to wrestle — me and my sister. My sister got married last year and had to give up wrestling. I hope to continue and make a career in wrestling.”