BHOPAL: It is another rags-to-riches tale. In 2016, she was ferrying boats to help her father and four elder sisters for fishing in the backwaters of Indira Sagar Dam on Narmada in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh. Her only motive was to repay her family’s debt.
Five years down the line, the script has taken a dramatic turn. From boat to canoe, dam to the vast expanse of the Bhopal Lake, the journey has taken her to the India national camp that would select a team for Asian Olympic qualifier in Pattaya, Thailand (March 14-17). She is tipped to emerge as India’s top woman canoer and make her international canoeing debut two months later.
We are talking about Kaveri Dhimar, all of 17 years, who has already won 12 gold medals at national canoeing events. “I’m fifth among the seven sisters and two little brothers. We didn’t have any land and being from the fishermen community, our parents only relied on fishing in rivers to run the family,” Kaveri told TNIE.
Memories of helping her elder sisters fish in the backwaters of Indira Sagar Dam on river Narmada in 2016 to repay her father’s loan of Rs 40,000 are still fresh in her mind. “We finally succeeded,” she said. In the same year, the Khandwa district sports officer Joseph Baxla spotted Kaveri’s talent in swimming and took her to the MP Water Sports Academy in Bhopal.
“We still don’t have our own land and my parents fish in the river Narmada. My dream is to make it big in the international arena one day and buy land for my family,” said Kaveri. Madhya Pradesh Water Sports Academy coach Pijush Baroi, under whom Kaveri trains has encouraging words for the youngster.
“Kaveri has emerged as the country’s top female canoer within just four years. In a sport where height is considered advantageous, Kaveri with her short stature has emerged as country’s top female canoer on the basis of her never say die approach and ability to grasp,” he said.