KIYG 2023: Daughter of a welder, Chandigarh’s Sapna shines with a second gold
CHENNAI — A childhood obsession for medals introduced Chandigarh’s Sapna to sports and she is now fulfilling that dream as a judoka in the ongoing Khelo India Youth Games 2023 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Sapna’s journey started with yoga before she was influenced by some friends to take up judo five years ago. Sapna is now a proud owner of 12 medals, which includes a second Khelo India Youth Games gold which she won in the under-40 kg category here on Sunday.
Sapna, whose father is a welder and mother a housewife, said her parents don’t have any clue about her sport but they have never stopped her from participating.
“I was mad about medals, no matter what the sport was. The only thing I wanted was to win medals. At the nearby school, I saw some kids doing yogasana and I joined them. But some days later, I befriended some other kids there and found them training for judo. I instantly liked the sport and decided to pursue it… and that’s how the journey started,” she said.
Now, a student of Class 12, Sapna’s initial days in the sport were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic but she never missed a day of training.
“Our trainer used to take online classes, and we were assigned to make small videos of our training, and I did not miss a day’s training. I somehow felt that if I missed a day of training I would miss a medal on resumption of competitions. That feeling pushed me to work harder,” she recalled with a smile.
Sapna tasted success for the first time at the National Cadet Women’s League when she won a gold medal. She hasn’t looked back since. The judoka has so far won overall four National Cadet Women’s League gold medals, two Khelo India gold, and a host of silver and bronze medals at the national championships.
However, it hasn’t been a cakewalk for Sapna as her modest background and lack of financial support forced her to miss the Commonwealth Cadet Championships in South Africa.
“There have been several examples (of challenges) but the one I clearly remember is an opportunity to take part in the Commonwealth Cadet championships. It required around Rs 2 lakh, which I couldn’t manage, and had to miss out on. I was a bit upset then, but took it in my stride,” she said.
Despite the setback, there has been no shortage of motivation for the 17-year-old, who feels her second KIYG gold medal will help her shine in the junior category.
For now, Sapna is happy to have inspired both her younger brothers to take up judo, and one of them has found instant success by winning a silver at the sub-junior nationals held at Chandigarh University in 2023.
“Once I started winning medals, my younger brothers also developed an interest in the sport, so I started taking them along for training. And now my immediate younger brother is National Sub-Junior junior silver medallist while the other looks a promising prospect too,” she added.