Priyanka, 17, wrestles with gold in Khelo India Youth Games
CHANDIGARH: Haryana farmer Ramesh Kumar, a former wrestler from
Nangla village in Bhiwani, trained his daughter Priyanka in old style
wrestling at a mud pit in his farm for almost a decade.
Seventeen-year-old Priyanka repaid her father's hard work by
winning gold in the ongoing Khelo India Youth Games
Priyanka, whose life seems to mirror Bollywood superhit Dangal, was overcome by emotion and broke down after she defeated Pooja Gurjar of Rajasthan 11-0 in a one-sided encounter in the girls U-17 61 kg freestyle category.
"My happiness has no bounds now. She has made me proud. Now I want her to win an international medal," says her father, a well-known wrestler in his area who had won several 'dangals' in his prime.
"I have four daughters, Priyanka is the youngest one. Others had never shown any interest in the sports. But Priyanka was always in sports since her school days. While growing up she used to be a long jumper. I just asked her if she was interested in wrestling. She replied, Haan Papa," recollects Kumar, who encouraged his daughter to wrestle even though others in his village thought the sport was not suitable for girls.
Priyanka trained under her father's watchful eyes for eight years, before moving to Rohtak and training under coach Vijender Gulia, a former constable in Haryana Police who runs a wrestling academy.
"A couple of years back, she won gold in the National School Games. I was in awe as my daughter had never practised on a wrestling mat. To be honest, I realised she was not going to learn minute nuances of the game under me as I am an old school wrestler. I decided to send her to Rohtak," explains Kumar.
"My father bore all my expenses even if he had to borrow money from others. No one helped us. They used to call my father an idiot. This medal is for him and a slap in the face of all those who used to taunt my father," says Priyanka.
Gulia, who has been training Priyanka for over one-and-a-half years, was all praise for his star athlete. "When she came to me, I was amazed by her athleticism. She played an attacking game from the beginning. She is fearless and has a killer instinct. She has terrific stamina as well. She is young and has so much potential. If given right exposure, she can do wonders," says a proud Gulia.