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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Pune’s blind judokas eager to throw it down for India at Commonwealth championship

Salve and Wajage will take part in the Commonwealth Judo Championship at Walsall, Birmingham, UK, from September 25-29

pune Updated: Sep 21, 2019 17:08 IST
Jigar Hindocha
Jigar Hindocha
Hindustan Times, Pune
(L)Renuka Salve and Sonali Wajage practise with their coach Rachana Dhopeshwar at Solaris club in Pune.
(L)Renuka Salve and Sonali Wajage practise with their coach Rachana Dhopeshwar at Solaris club in Pune.(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
         

Renuka Salve (16) and Sonali Wajage (18) were born blind. The lack of eyesight, however, has not stopped the two judokas from reaching the pinnacle of their judo careers until now - representing India at an international tournament.

Salve and Wajage will take part in the Commonwealth Judo Championship at Walsall, Birmingham, UK, from September 25-29.

It is the first time female Pune judokas are part of an India squad and Salve and Wajage won their places in the national team after claiming gold medals at the recently held National Blind Judo championship.

“It was a good performance in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh (nationals), which gave us an opportunity to represent India at the international stage,” chrous the excited duo.

Salve, born in Yedshi, Osmanabad; and Wajage from Rankhamb, Sangamner, are currently based at The Poona School and Home for Blind girls.

“Salve came to our school in 2012, while Wajage joined year earlier. Both the girls have been very courageous since they joined the school,” says Rajaram Jagtap, school principal.

The girls began judo five years ago under coach Rachana Dhopeshwar.

“I met them in 2014 and my motto was to teach them judo as an art of self- defence, but these girls showed great inclination towards the sport,” explains Dhopeshwar.

Though coaching judo for the last 25 years, for Dhopeshwar it was challenge to taught these girls because of the vision impairment.

“These girls don’t have their eyesight, but they are blessed with strong grips. Whenever they hold your hand they will hold it tightly which is very helpful. They have a very sharp memory. Once any move is taught to them they never forget it,” says Dhopeshwar.

“Judo is all about how you stand and then, how you fall. Fall well so you don’t get injured is the trick,” adds Dopeshwar.

Recalling her initial days, Wajage explains, “It was difficult to understand at the start, but our coach did a lot for us and we started enjoying the game.”

For these blind judokas, the voice of the coach is the key when the bout is on.

“Athlete should be alert to hear her coach. It is coordination which we practice,” explains Dopeshwar.

A total of 21 blind judokas and 11 officials will represent India at the Commonealth tourney.

Ajay Birajadar another medal hope

Ajay Birajadar is the third judoka from the city who will be in action at Birmingham among the normal athletes.

“Birajadar is in the senior category. He has experience at international tournaments,” says Dopeshwar.

Twenty-three year old Birajadar will be participating in 73-kg weight category.

How do blind judokas fight?

The bout begins with the referee helping each contestant take hold of the other via the judo kit grip (collar in right hand, sleeves in left)

Once players confirm the grip the bout begins.

In the three-minute bout a judoka can win by on points by pinning down, lifting and throwing the opponent.

Name: Renuka Salve

Age: 16

Weight Category: 40-44kg

Favourite throw: Osoto Gari (Larger outer reap throw)

Quote: Dream is to represent India in the 2024 Paralympic Games and win medals.

Name: Sonali Wajage

Age: 18

Weight category: 57-63kg

Favourite throw: O Goshi (Major heap throw)

Quote: If I practice judo without fear and listen to my coach then I will surely win a medal.

First Published: Sep 21, 2019 14:32 IST

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