Brummie Punekars open hearts, homes to city’s blind judoka champs in UK

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Published on Sep 29, 2019 03:38 PM IST
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By Jigar Hindocha, Pune

When Punekars Arvind Gore and Avinash Dhumal, who now reside in Birmingham, UK, came to know that the Commonwealth Judo Championship is taking place in Walsall, they were at the stadium to cheer Pune’s Sonali Wajage (18) and Renuka Salve (16), the two blind judokas from the city.

“I came to know from a friend in Pune, Anjali Gote, that players from the Poona School and Home for Blind girls are participating. I did all that I could to make them feel home,” says Gore who has been a Brummie (Birmingham resident( since 1994, originally hailing from Satara.

Hearing the Indian national anthem played 19 times in the stadium was the most memorable moment for Dhumal; that is how many medals India won at the event.

“It was simply amazing and I cannot express my feelings, when I saw the Indian tricolour being hoisted. These girls were brilliant with their bouts and I respect their courage,” said Dhumal who hails from Pune and has been residing in Birmingham since 2006.

Rachana Dhopeshwar, who has been training the girls for the past five years was also applauded by the Maharashtrian families residing in Birmingham.

“Dhopeshwar is doing a wonderful job. It is amazing to see a coach give personal attention to the players and explain the bouts,” said Dhumal.

“We would love to help every athlete who travels from India to Birmingham,” chorus Gore and Dhumal over a WhatsApp call.

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