‘I want to make the nation proud’
Shreya Jadhav, a 14-year-old girl from Mumbai, is not the usual teenager who keeps clicking selfies on the smartphone or chills out with friends. She has a vision: To represent India at 2024 Olympics. The national U-14 Taekwondo champion’s dream is not only to have a personal achievement but also make the nation proud.
Supporting her passion, her father Nitin Jadhav has started a crowdfunding project to raise Rs 20 lakh. They have already managed to raise more than Rs 1 lakh.
Shreya says that her parents wanted her to take up Taekwondo as a mere self-defence technique. “But it clearly became more than that when my coach, Bhaskar Karkera, told my parents that I had a good form, and that was when I started taking it seriously,” says Shreya.
Taekwondo, as a sport, is not very popular in India and many people think it is like karate, but it is not. “There’s not so much knowledge about Taekwondo here so I want more people to know about it and also practise it,” says she.
Shreya has successfully made a name for herself in the world of Taekwondo. She claimed the gold at Mumbai Consul General Cup National Taekwondo Championship in 2017, and in the same year, she also took part in the 7th Tirak Taekwondo International in Thailand and brought home another gold.
Last month, she won gold at the U-14 Nationals in Chennai. Apart from Karkera, she has been coached by Prem Kumar and Siddhesh Ghag, and trained in Mumbai’s Ruia College.
By participating in international competitions, a Taekwondo athlete gains the required Global Membership System in order to qualify for the Olympics.
Her father says that according to her coach Karkera, Shreya has the potential to excel at the international stage. “But to go to that level, she needs to compete in as many international competitions as possible and gain points to make the Olympics cut,” he says adding that he can provide funds from his personal savings but it is not sufficient because they come from a middle-class family. “So, we are trying to collect funds, besides my own contribution,” he adds.
Nitin, who works in the finance team of a private firm, says that while he has the capacity to sponsor Shreya’s various state and national tournaments, he cannot afford the international competitions.
About the Taekwondo Federation of India, Nitin says that they are helpful but they usually come into the picture only during tournaments that are organised by them. “They do look after the boarding, however, travelling and all other personal expenses are on us. If we go for open international competitions, they are not bound to give us funds. That said, those open tournaments are also very important,” Nitin says.
Talking about participating at the international level, Shreya says that her mettle was truly tested in Thailand, where she got the first real taste of competition at the big stage and yet managed to win the gold. Shreya says that the Thailand outing was totally different compared to the national competitions in India. She feels a unique sense of pride and achievement when she is known as an “Indian” player and not by her name. She wants to experience more of that, and qualify for the 2024 Olympics. “I have a long way to go. But I hope that I get there with the help of everyone,” says the talented youngster.
For the competition, her father shelled out around Rs 1 lakh, an amount he cannot shell out regularly to sustain Shreya’s competitive needs, which is at least four to five international tournaments a year.
To help Shreya achieve her dream, visit https://www.impactguru.com/fundraiser/help-shreya-nitin-jadhav