Wednesday was a frenetic day at the Jhajharia residence in Churu, Rajasthan.
With Devendra Jhajharia winning his second Paralympics gold medal in Rio, the family was receiving congratulatory calls while the media were keen to get details on his journey over the years — the sacrifices he had to make to become the most succesful Indian Paralympian.
While focus, determination and relentless a pursuit for excellence in training have been the hallmarks of Jhajharia’s journey, the champion’s wife, Manju, has been a constant source of strength.
Manju, who used to be a kabbadi player, gave up a promising career in the sport to help Jhajharia fulfill his dreams. Having represented Jaipur’s Bhawani Niketan College in the state championship, Manju was pursuing a PhD in geography from Rajasthan University when the pair got married in 2007.
Two years later, when they had their daughter, Jiya, they realised that one of them would have to take a step back and raise the family.
“When we had a daughter in 2009, we realised that both of us wouldn’t be able to pursue our sporting careers at the same time. So I took charge of things and this gave him complete freedom to concentrate on his sport rather than worry about small issues at home. I take care of all the domestic issues and the needs of our kid,” Manju told HT.
Manju says her husband wants her daughter Jiya to follow in their footsteps and become a sportsperson, albeit a shooter or an archer.
“In sports like athletics, there is just too much physical struggle. So athletes cannot focus on their studies as well as perform well in their discipline. That’s why we want her to become a shooter or an archer,” she added.