Meet Bengaluru’s own karate kids: Pavani and Akshatha

Focus on sports talent

Karate champions Pavani Ashok (left) and Akshita Suresh. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

Karate is one of the most widely practiced martial art forms in Asia and requires great physical coordination and focus. Though it largely remains in the shadows because of the limited attention it receives, once in a while a performance comes that makes it worth noticing.

With karate’s inclusion in the 2020 summer Olympics confirmed, the youngsters are extra-motivated to do well in the sport.

Earlier this month, Pavani Ashok and Akshata Suresh, the two 13-year-olds from Karnataka, achieved quite a remarkable feat, sharing three medals between them at the recently-concluded 13th World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

Pavani, an eigth standard student of Army Public School, Paratchute Regiment Training Centre (PRTC), bagged two medals. She won the gold in Kata in the Junior category and settled for bronze in Kumite. Akshata, on the other hand, settled for bronze in Kata in the Junior section.   

“I had a really good experience,” recalls Pavani. “It was the first time that I stood out against competitors from other countries, so I liked it very much. It was tough but we are second to none.”

Both train under Kyoshi Captain SC Durai at the Okinawa Gojukan Karate-Do Training School in Yelahanka.

And although he admitted that qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Japan seemed like a far-fetched dream, Durai said if his students continue the hard work, it’s not beyond their reach.

“For the last 35 years, I have been giving karate lessons. These girls are with me for the last five years. They have a lot of potential, they have power, they are strong mentally, and they are dedicated,” said Durai.

Meanwhile in a nation that has many other popular and less arduous options, not many youngsters prefer to take on a physically demanding journey.

But these two aren’t fazed by the challenges. While Pavani was encouraged by parents, Akshata was drawn towards it because the discipline gave her a sense of strength.

“It (karate) made me powerful, both mentally and physically, I really liked it so I thought why shouldn’t I practice it,” Akshata, a student of Holy Saint’s High School, said.

Pavani felt she became more disciplined and her self-confidence grew after taking up karate. “It also helped me become mentally stronger. So, I would really like to continue practicing it.”

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