Factors that influenced you to become an International Karate Champion:
Karate has often times been regarded as a sport that you play with bare hands, so I always wanted to be very strong right from the beginning of my journey. My father was an army professional and he was the one who guided my foot steps in this direction. He wanted me to learn self defence and focus on my fitness. Thus, he and his fitness training were the leading forces that drove me to choose martial arts as my career.
Most difficult challenges you have faced in your journey in order to reach this pedestal:
I truly believe that when you have a target in your head, you do not need external motivation. The goals in your head become the biggest force that keep energising you. I always make sure to focus on my target. We participate in matches that require us to fit under one weight category be it 55-60 or 50-55. Under these binding rules that we have to perform, we not only have to keep a check on our weight but also on our strength, flexibility and all the other factors related and for that our mental health, fitness regime and eating habits have to be disciplined. We train all parts of our body and take very good care all the time. When we are preparing for an upcoming event, we ought to push ourselves to disciplined ways and practises. When there's a medal waiting for you and a goal right in front of your eyes, everything starts to seem worthy. We take good cheat days and then train ourselves even better.
The biggest challenges for me were the injuries that I had to go through. There were a lot of major and minor injuries that I had to suffer throughout- I had hard times where I could barely walk and doctors advised me bed rest for a period of three to four months. It surely saddened and demotivated me as it drained me mentally and physically. Every player has to go through this at some point in their life. As of now, I have gotten used to these setbacks and with experience, have learnt to see past them and handle them well. As a player you have to be conditioned enough to be able to keep the sportsmen spirit alive, not get aggressive over getting hurt or do anything that takes you away from your ultimate focus.
Has there been an optimistic change in the representation/ recognition of sportswomen in the country:
When you start something new in life, you need your family to be your biggest support as well as your biggest critic. Well, I have faced a lot from the society too- why am I practising a sport meant for men? What if I broke a limb or who is going to marry me? Of late, the picture is gradually changing and I have seen a lot of people develop awareness about sports. The film industry too is helping a great deal in that case. Movies bring out stories that otherwise lay far from recognition and awareness in the country. The people in the country barely recognise the sportswomen who are shedding blood, sweat and tears to win medals for their country. It’s high time to give women players the recognition that they deserve! Different States of the country too are coming forward to recognise female players in the niche. It is true that female players still do not get as much exposure as the male players do- the male cricket team is by far more popular than the female one. Female achievers are doing great work in the country today. We have more female faces in sports now. Though there is a certain inequality that still exists but the situation is improving gradually. Female athletes are motivated well, duly supported and encouraged to step ahead.
Role of your family in your career journey and mantras that you personally believe in which help you kick-off uncertainties:
My family has supported me throughout and has been the biggest reason why I could achieve all that I have today. My father has been the backbone in this journey. He used to train me and stood by me all the while. I grew up with a mindset that whenever I stand in the ring, I fight my opponent without being bothered of their gender. My parenting has played a big role in establishing my values not just in sports but in my life as well.
I'd like to bring up this important lesson that my coach Jaidev Sharma has taught me in life- One should not be celebrating too soon nor should be demotivated too soon! I have been following this mantra religiously. I have learned to keep my cool and be humble in life. Early celebration is dangerous and so is letting small hurdles take over you. Whenever I win a match, I receive the medal with utmost calm and look forward to a new goal, a new journey and a new battle to win. If you already have one achievement that’s all over your head, new achievements won’t find space. The “what next” mentality is necessary for success.
Role of mentors that helped you overcome difficulties and pushed you into becoming a global success:
My parents have been the support system of my career journey. However, their support was confined to motivating me and pushing me to train and practice. On the other hand, the role of my coach Jaidev Sharma was to teach me how to convert this practise and training into accolades. He taught me the value of smart work over hard work- to think smart, to act smart or to activate the presence of mind. He taught me ways to execute the focus in head towards the direction of real actions. His words of wisdom are ingrained in me and this, along with my personal efforts has led me to all that there is today!