Teen Sejal fencing her way to success

Teen Sejal fencing her way to success

focus on sports talent

Sejal Gulia

Switching cities for armed forces' families is inevitable. In a little over a decade, army posting has forced Colonel Yash Raj Gulia and Captain (retired) Ambika Gulia -- originally hailing from Jhajjar in Haryana -- to move to six cities. But in 2017, their arrival in Bengaluru changed everything.

Their younger daughter Sejal Gulia, then nine years old, showed great interest in fencing. Fast forward to two years and Sejal is the national champion in the girls’ U-12 fencing. “My husband got a field posting in Tenga in Arunachal Pradesh recently. But since we are getting the best facilities for Sejal’s interests here, I decided to stay in Bengaluru with my daughters Sejal and Nehal while my husband moved to Tenga,” says Ambika who took voluntary retirement to take care of her two children.

After annexing the U-14 State title, Sejal, representing Karnataka, emerged the U-12 girls’ Epee champion and bagged the team gold at the 4th Child Cup and 10th Mini Fencing National Championship in Nashik earlier this month.

“I played the reigning champion in the final and that was the most difficult game. I took the lead but she staged a fine comeback. I managed to hold on to my advantage and win the gold,” Sejal, a sixth standard student of Army Public School, tells DH.  

Sejal’s mental toughness impressed her mother the most. “She remained calm, even in the final. On the other hand, I was very nervous,” recollects Ambika .

The youngster will now represent India at the Thailand Open fencing meet in Bangkok. “I am excited about this because it’s my first tournament outside India,” says Sejal, thanking all her coaches.  

In a day and age when many youngsters pick up sports like badminton, table tennis or cricket, Sejal’s decision to choose fencing didn’t surprise her parents. “Fencing is like physical chess and that’s why I liked it when I played the first time,” she offers.

“We introduced her to many games but she chose fencing. And right from the first day, she was disciplined in her training. Not once has she complained about early morning training sessions,” explains Ambika.

Sejal is proud of her parents’ profession but right now, she is aiming for more laurels in fencing. “She respects our work. She has seen many photographs of mine in uniform and has got inspired by the Indian Army. However, currently, we want her to focus on fencing. Karnataka is one of the best places for this sport and we hope she wins more gold medals,” Ambika says.