THRISSUR: She was not exactly the country’s brightest medal hope going into the Commonwealth Games, but when all was said and done in Glasgow, judoka Rajwinder Singh had a bit of bronze around her neck.
The 29-year-old from Punjab does not sound too excited though, when she relives that experience. “Everybody wants gold and I was no different,” she says. “It was a tough bout. And I am happy that I was able to do my country proud.”
It may not be one of the country’s more fancied sports, but Judo has netted India a medal every time it was included in the Commonwealth Games. The Glasgow performance was capped off when the judokas brought home four medals – two silvers and a bronze along with Rajvinder’s third place finish in the women’s +78kg category.
The Olympics though have remained an entirely different prospect. But Rajvinder believes that with a bit more push, judo can make the growing list of sports that the country can expect a medal in. “It is not for want of talent. We have judokas here with potential. But we need more exposure and opportunities to participate in tournaments overseas. Only then can we improve and move up the rankings,” she says.
Rankings, in Judo, are vital with the top fourteen women and 22 men qualifying for the Olympics with additional places for each continent. Hovering outside the top hundred in her weight category, Rio may seem an ambition too lofty for the Jalandhar-born athlete, but she is not giving up. “I am preparing myself for Rio. It is going to be tough, but I believe I can do it. I hope to get opportunities to participate in a few competitions in the coming months and a few good performances may get me back into contention for an Olympic berth.”
Her unlikely road to Rio, she believes, starts in Thrissur with the National Games. “I last won silver at the National Games in 2007. I was hampered by injury in 2011 and had to settle for silver. But this time, I am hoping to get gold. That should stand me in good stead for the rest of the year,” she signed off.