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Judoka Preeti leads India’s medal haul at Asian Junior Judo Championships

The Indian contingent clinched three bronze medals at the Asian Junior Judo Championships in Bishkek

other sports Updated: Jul 18, 2017 21:18 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Asian Junior Judo Championships,Judo,Bishkek
India won three bronze medals at the Asian Junior Judo Championships.(HT Photo)

Preeti, a young judoka, loves to eat rice and ‘chapatis’, but stayed away from her favourite food for long as she wanted to reduce her weight to win medals in the under 40 kg category at the 2014 Asian Championship.

It made no difference and she had to return empty-handed. She was quite apprehensive of resuming her food habits as a rise in her weight could diminish her chances of winning again but she was forced to do so by her coach Sushma Awasthi. It paid rich dividends to her at the 11th Asian Cadet and 18th Asian Junior Judo Championships at Kyrgyzstan on Monday.

A bronze medal in below 44 kg weight category came as a big surprise to her. “I did not expect to win a medal again. I did a lot of hard-work for it,” an elated Preeti told Hindustan Times on Tuesday soon before boarding a flight from New Delhi to Lucknow.

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“It was quite difficult for me to change my weight category but I had no other option. Eating less to maintain low weight was reducing my energy level,” said Preeti, who admitted she faced a tough time on the family front when she started doing judo a few years ago.

“There was no support from my family in the beginning as girls were not allowed to fight like boys. However, my father kept encouraging me to continue in sport,” she said.

Preeti lauded her coach for her efforts. “Once I got the coach’s nod, I started enjoying rice and ‘chapatis’ without any hindrance. Winning a medal became possible only because of my coach,” said Preeti, who first defeated a judoka from Chinese Taipei, before losing her second to an opponent fromUzbekistan. However, in the repechage bout, she beat her Kazakhstan opponent to win bronze.

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Saharanpur’s Preeti, who has been an integral part of the Sports Authority of India’s judo hostel at the regional centre here, admitted winning a bronze in the cadet category at the Asian Championship in 2012 was an inspiration for her.

“That was the biggest success of my career but no medal in the 2014 edition disappointed me a lot. Since then, I was targeting for a medal but I wasn’t sure this time. In repechage, I put my best foot forward to win a medal,” she said.

Preeti was a part of the 16-member squad to Kyrgyzstan where two other Indian girls, Pincky Balhara and Tulika Maan of Delhi, also won bronze medals in junior category.

Showering praise on Preeti, Sushma said, “I did what I was required to do as a coach but the credit goes to Preeti, who never succumbed to pressure during her training and followed my instructions. I am happy that her hard work paid rich dividends,” said Awasthi.

First Published: Jul 18, 2017 18:12 IST