BENGALURU: Dr Varsha S Puranik, a roller skater from Mysuru, will be representing the country at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia, being held from August 18 to September 2. She is the only woman from Mysuru to have been selected for the Asian Games.
This is the third time Varsha is representing India at the Asian Games. She says, "I will be facing athletes from eight different countries, and will be fighting it out for our country with the top 16 athletes, of which four are world champions. It's going to be tough, but I will be tougher."
Varsha, 30, started skating at the age of three, and ice skating at the age of 18. In a short time, she set a record in speed inline skating and ice skating. A doctor by profession, she is presently working as a consultant with Cauvery Institute of Health Science, while also rigorously training seven hours a day.
Talking about her journey with City Express, she says, "My mother enrolled me for skating classes when I was three. I was the youngest athlete to represent Karnataka at the National Roller Skating Championship after just one year of training. I feel proud representing Karnataka, and want to win a gold."
Getting selected for Asian games was the outcome of her hard work and perseverance, says Varsha. "I started training two years ago. Training for the Asian Games is quite different from other competitions, because this event comes once in four years and there is no room for mistakes.
I will try my best."
Varsha trained under K Srikantha Rao at Rao's Roller Skating Academy. "I want to be the first female from Karnataka to carry the tricolour flag fly in the podium." Roller skating was introduced at the Summer Asian Games in China in 2010, when Varsha first participated and came in seventh. In 2014, roller skating was taken off the list, only to be reintroduced this year.
Varsha, who has already represented India at Asian Championships in 2001, 2004, 2012, 2014 and 2016, will also be representing the country at the Asian Roller Skating Championship to be held in South Korea from September 4 to 14. The Government of Karnataka awarded her with an Ekalavya Award in 2013.
Apart from roller skating, she loves in gardening and reading books, and says that parents should encourage their children if they see that they have a talent. Her coach, Rao, says, "She has won around 52 gold medals, and is a role model to young skaters."
- Varsha represented Karnataka at 21 national championships up to 2017, and has won 44 gold medals, 17 silver medals and six bronze medals at the national championships (Speed Skating) organized by Roller Skating Federation of India (RSFI).
- She represented Karnataka at four national ice skating championships, for which she trained in Jammu and Kashmir during winter. She has won four golds and one bronze. Recently, she was ranked 13th for ice skating at the eighth Asian Winter Games in Japan.
- Varsha has represented India at three world championships - five Asian Championships; two Asian Games (Summer and Winter); one World Games and Skating Championship in Venezuela in 2003. She has won a bronze at the 10th Asian Games in Taiwan in 2001, defeating Japanese contestants. She also represented India at the World Games in Cali, Columbia, in 2010.