India’s sportsmen are bringing laurels to the country by winning numerous competitions in various parts of the world. But the hard work and effort behind their success mostly goes unnoticed. Today’s story is of one such personality who has scripted history by becoming the first Indian sportsperson to win a gold medal at the Wushu World Championships.
Pooja Kadian’s feat was not an easy one. She overcame uncountable hurdles to attain success. In a talk with KenFolios, she talks about her journey.
Life wasn’t a bed of roses for her ever as she lost her mother when she was six-year-old. She was sent to her father’s village Dehri in Haryana where her uncle and aunt mistreated her and made her do all the household chores. After sometime, her father re-married and left Pooja with her maternal grandparents in Delhi.
Pooja started learning taekwondo when she turned eight. After six years, she started playing Wushu, a type of full-contact martial art derived from traditional Chinese martial arts. However, this was not easy for her. When she reached STD 6, she was sent back to her village. But Pooja’s love for Wushu did not stop her. She struggled a lot in the initial days of her sporting career.
“I used to wake up at 4.30 am for practice and then leave for school. My school ended at 2 pm after which I would rush to catch a bus to Bahadurgad, which left at 2:30 for evening practice. I would change clothes and run for the bus stand that was 2 km away from my house, without even having lunch. After coming back at night, I had to prepare dinner,” says Pooja.
“My uncle and aunt never encouraged me. They used to tell me ‘Game me kya rakha hai, ghar pe reh ke kaam kar (There is nothing in sports. Stay at home and do the household chores). This made me very depressed. I called up my grandmother and asked her to take me back to Delhi.”
After coming to Delhi, Pooja had to take a break from Wushu for three years, as she did not have any financial support. “I did not have money to participate in any competition. So I decided to take a break,” she recalls. In 2008, Pooja went to Bhopal Academy for her graduation. “Things changed a bit for me. I started playing again but had very limited resources compared to other children.”
Pooja started learning under her coach Rajveer Singh, who is currently an Assistant Commander in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). He encouraged her to apply for a job in the CRPF after the forms were out. “I thought that this job would be a support for me and I did not want to rely on anyone. I wanted to sustain myself financially and participate in competitions. So, I joined the CRPF in 2013. My life changed a lot after that.”
In the 14th edition of the World Championships held at Russia, Pooja created history by winning in the 75 kg women’s Sanda Category. She has bagged a number of medals for India in both national and international events. She won gold medal in the 12th South Asian Games and National Games in 2014 and 2017. Besides, she has won silver in the World Games 2013 and World Championship 2013 and 2015. From past 10 years, she is winning medals for India in the India camps.
Talking about the Wushu World Championship, she says, “My goal was not to win a gold medal. I was just working hard to perform well for the country.” After creating history, Pooja’s life became much easier. “I started getting good response from the department and my family.”
Currently, she is serving as the head constable in the CRPF. She is preparing for the Asia Cup, which is in December in Philippines and working hard to reduce 10 kg for that. Pooja’s achievement serves as an inspiration to so many other people who want to take up Wushu, which is not among the more popular sport in the world.
“Haryana me reh ke sport nahi kiya toh kya faayda Haryana ka naam lene ka (If you are from Haryana and do not play any sport, then what is the point of being in this land),” she giggles. Pooja has won laurels for the nation despite the numerous obstacles in her path. She believes that one should be determined and not think of anything else.
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