MORE THAN two years ago, when a young Ishroop Narang started taking judo lessons, it was because she was trying to lose weight. At 70 kg, she started training under coaches Praveen Thakur and Kishor Kumar at Guru Nanak International School, Ludhiana. Last week, the 13-year-old Ludhiana girl won her first international medal — a bronze medal in the +70 kg pre cadet category — in the Commonwealth Judo Championships held at Walsaal, Great Britain.
Narang has 12 fingers and 12 toes, something says helps her in the sport instead of acting like a deterrent.
“It’s my first international medal and it feels to special to win the medal in England. The weather conditions were a bit different as compared to India and adjusting to the conditions was the main challenge. Playing against experienced England players helped my confidence and the win against Milly Horsfeld to win a bronze boosted my confidence a lot. I was born with 12 fingers and 12 toes and it has not been a deterrent. It helps me grip and make sweep moves against the opponent,” she says.
Prior to judo, Narang played basketball in school. In 2017, she became a state champion in the 44 kg category in the Punjab Judo Championships at Bathinda the same year. The last two years have seen Narang win the gold in 44 kg and 57 kg in state championships in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Last year, she also won the bronze in School National Games held at Ranchi, Jharkhand. She is now preparing for open nationals to be held in Manipur later this month.
Earlier this year, Narang was selected for training at the Inspire Institute of Sports, Vijaynagar, Andhra Pradesh. “Winning the gold medal in Punjab State Championships in 2017 gave me confidence that I can excel in light-weight categories too. As my weight increased, I practiced accordingly. Prior to England, I had won the bronze medal in School Nationals at Ranchi last year. Earlier this year, I gave trials for IIS and training there has helped me. I idolise 2018 Youth Olympics silver medallist Tababi Devi and she also trains there. I often seek tips from her and coach Jiwan Sharma,” shared Narang, whose father Tejinderpal Singh Narang is a businessman and mother Jaspreet Kaur is a homemaker.
Former national coach Jiwan Sharma, who now trains at IIS, said, “Ishroop’s biggest strength is her will power. She is still young and needs to improve a lot. Competing in more international tournaments will help her game and it will help her prepare for junior as well senior categories later.”