Empowerment and gold medals with martial arts

Rathod Vanitha has trained under her dedicated coach, Veerash, in taekwondo, boxing, karate and other forms.
Rathod Vanitha
Rathod VanithaPhoto | Express

ADILABAD: While martial arts are often introduced to girls to save themselves from crimes and harrasment, a young woman from the quaint village of Morchandi in Bazarathnoor mandal is breaking barriers and shattering stereotypes through her passion for martial arts. What started as a mere hobby ended up with Rathod Vanitha clinching a gold medal in a recent national level tournament in Ranchi, Jharkhand.

The daughter of Rathod Pandurang, an auto-rickshaw driver, and Aruna, a homemaker, Vanitha, who is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree, tells TNIE that she aspires to win an Olympic medal for India. “I hope to represent India in the Olympics someday and win laurels for the country,” she remarks.

She has trained under her dedicated coach, Veerash, in taekwondo, boxing, karate and other forms. Her journey towards mastery began in her school days, where she spent her mornings and evenings undergoing rigorous training, alongside her academic pursuits. Despite societal norms discouraging girls from venturing outside their villages, Vanitha’s family stood by her, encouraging her pursuit of martial arts while also prioritising her education.

On her education, she says, “My family members wanted me to study and get a Central government job. While doing my degree, I have been taking part in many tournaments and even refereeing in a few.”

She recently won the gold medal in the 75 kg boxing category at a national tournament held in Jharkhand apart from bagging the silver in Taekwondo in Haryana during a university-level event.

While her eyes are set on Olympic glory, Vanitha remains grounded in her desire to uplift her family and inspire future generations. She believes that government support and encouragement are paramount in fostering the growth of martial arts, especially among girls.

Speaking on her journey, Vanitha emphasises the importance of parental encouragement and sports education for girls. Her coach, Veerash, echoes her sentiments, urging parents to nurture their children’s sporting talents alongside their academics, as it not only provides employment opportunities but also equips them with essential life skills.

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