When Seema started with judo nine years ago, she had to learn, besides the basics of the sport, the lesson of being frugal with her personal needs. For her father, Ramesh Dutt, who is a waiter in the canteen at Haryana Vidhan Sabha, had to tend a five-member family.
“I had to be economical with whatever amount of money I used to get because expenses related to both judo and studies had to be taken care of. Now, though, I don’t have to worry much as training and studies are both free of cost, thanks to my achievements at the national level events,” shares the 19-year-old national medallist judoka, a resident of Sector 46.
However, the reason why she opted for judo makes for an interesting story. “Since childhood, I have a great liking for martial arts movies, and wanted to be like the fighters shown in them.” shares the player.
“In 2005, (coach) Krishan Lal sir, who used to take judo classes in our school, conducted trials to enrol some new trainees. Believing that judo was the answer to my dream, I took the trials and was selected. While I came to know about the reality behind the movies eventually, I continued with the sport as I had developed a great passion for it then,” added the player who recently took the trials for the Youth and Junior Asia Championship, but missed the chance to make to the final squad after a shoulder injury led to her defeat in the semifinal round of the selection competition.
“It was a golden opportunity for me to make my international debut, but the injury messed it up. However, I have not lost my determination and will try next year,” adds the city girl, who studies in BA (IInd year) at Guru Nanak Girls College, Ludhiana, and trains under coach Praveen Thakur there. However, she represents Chandigarh in national championships.
After starting with judo, Seema showed a natural aptitude for the sport, as it took her only a couple of months of training to win her first medal.
“A month after starting with judo, I shifted my training base to the judo coaching centre (also run by coach Krishan Lal) at the Sector-42 Sports Complex to devote more time to practice. The move paid off, as I won a gold medal in the UT inter-school tournament. Subsequently, I also participated in the judo competition of the 50th National School Games held in Gujarat,” says the judoka, who claimed her first National School Games medal – a silver – in the 2007-08 edition of the event; after that she won a bronze each in the three other editions of the Games before graduating to the college two years ago.
Besides that, she is the reigning champion in her weight categories in the junior and senior state events; she also has a bronze from the five junior Nationals she has participated in so far, and made her debut in senior Nationals earlier this year. She also won a bronze for Panjab University in the all-India inter-university meet held in Amritsar last January.
“A big credit of my success goes to my parents for they have never stopped me from pursuing my sporting ambitions. I am equally grateful to my coaches who have worked so hard on polishing my skills,” says Seema.
On her future aspirations, Seema says, “I have a couple of dreams. Firstly, I want to get India a medal at international events. Secondly, I want to be a police officer. However, my immediate focus is to put up an improved performance at the upcoming junior and senior national championships.”