Bangkok silver lights up Sangeetha's path

Bangkok silver lights up Sangeetha's path

young star Sangeetha B R, one of the brightest young prospects in judo, struck silver at the recent Asian Youth Championships. DH photo/ Kishore Kumar Bolar

Sangeetha battled several odds to take up judo and has already made a mark in age-group events. The brightest moment yet in her sporting career came last week when she won a silver in the open category (+61 kg) at the Asian Youth Championship in Bangkok.

The 15-year-old might have gone down to her rival from Kazakhstan in the final but Sangeetha said she was hardly disheartened by the defeat. “I am really happy to have won a medal at an international meet. The competition was very tough and I came up with my best effort. It was a very good experience. So, there is no way that I am going to be disappointed,” said Sangeetha.

“I was a little bit worried as I was competing in an international competition for the first time. I think that might have been one of the reasons for my defeat in the final,” added Sangeetha.

A product of Belgaum Sports Hostel, Sangeetha trains under Triveni Sankhala and her husband Jitender Singh, who are the coaches at the hostel. “Sangeetha joined the hostel at the age of 11 after a selection trial for the Belgaum Sports Hostel. She was a shot-putter when she joined the hostel. But I soon realised that she had the potential to excel in judo. Her physique and broad shoulders meant she would do well in judo. So I took her to my sport,” said Triveni.

Former international Triveni and her husband said judo has now become a top priority sport among the youngsters in Belgaum. “When we joined SAI in Belgaum there wasn’t a single student for judo. But now there are around 50 judokas and many of them are medal winners in national and international meets. When we joined we used to go to nearby villages in search of youngsters who are keen to take up sports. That is how we developed a strong judo field in Belgaum,” said the 36-year-old Triveni, who was the national champion from 1990 to 1996.

Triveni became convinced she had made a prize catch when Sangeetha won a silver at the sub-junior nationals in Haridwar in 2008. “Sangeetha is a special talent. She is a natural athlete. If she stays disciplined and keep her focus on judo, I am hundred per cent sure she will make do well at the top level. Many good athletes are there in the villages but many lose focus once they start getting rewards at the age-group level,” elaborated Triveni.

Sangeetha went on to pocket the gold the next year at Indore, asserting her class. The 10th standard student of Pheonix Public School in Belgaum has been the State champion from 2007 in the sub-junior category.

A native of Bogarhalli village in Hassan, Sangeetha’s parents are not financially sound to help her fulfil her sporting dreams. Her father Ramesh is a farmer and mother Thejovathi, a housewife. “My parents have a lot of limitations but they put aside all their problems and helped me. I was in seventh standard at the Basava Raghavendra High School in Hassan when my father brought me to the trials for the Belgaum Sports Hostel. Luckily, I was picked to join the hostel. I want to continue performing well in judo,” said Sangeetha.

With the Youth Olympic Games coming up in August at Singapore, Sangeetha is confident of a good show if she gets selected. “My next priority is to win a medal in the Youth Games. “I am not sure whether I will get a chance to go to Singapore. If I am selected for the Games then I will give my hundred percent,” said Sangeetha.

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