Belagavi village girl strikes it rich at Asiad

Belagavi village girl strikes it rich at Asiad

Malaprabha Jadhav

Malaprabha Jadhav could well have been living the dream of her sisters when she won the bronze medal in kurash at the 18th Asian Games on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old from Turmuri village of Belagavi district notched three fine wins in this little known sport before losing to Gulnor Sulaymanova of Uzbekistan in the semifinal. The joy of becoming India’s first medalist in this sport was evident on her face as she spoke to DH.

“My sisters were interested in sport but received little encouragement. When I started showing interest in sports, they are the ones who backed me, and my father (Yallappa) also followed suit,” said Malaprabha, who is named after the river that flows through Belagavi. 

That is a decision Yallappa, a farmer, never had to regret. Malaprabha, who started off with kho-kho, moved to judo, winning medals galore. She was the Asian cadets champion in the 48kg class in 2014 but a couple of years later, she began to train for kurash.

The Central Asian sport with roots in Uzbekistan has elements of judo and wrestling in it, helping Malaprabha’s switch easier.

Training under coaches Triveni and Jitender Singh in Belagavi, she made quick strides. 

A silver winner at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games at Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, Malaprabha also won a bronze at the Asian Kurash Championships in Pune earlier this year. 

“I enjoyed competing here, I was hoping to win the gold medal but the Uzbekistan girl was too good,” said the 4-feet, 10-inches tall girl. A second year PU student of Vanitha Vidyalaya in Belagavi, Malaprabha said she wants to continue training in judo as well as kurash.