KADAPA: Powerlifting recently made news when a couple of girls from Andhra Pradesh bagged medals in national and international events. One of the winners, Rajanala Poorna, is a second-year BA student of CSSR and SRRM Degree and PG college in Kamalapuram, Kadapa district.
By bagging gold at the Asian Championship held in Istanbul last December, Poorna proved her mettle and showed the world that one’s gender and marital status are no hindrances to excelling in sports, even a little-known male-dominated one such as powerlifting.
The 24-year-old, now married, comes from a family of strong men, as many are bodybuilders. She decided to pursue the strength sport that consists of three events—squat, bench press and deadlift—when she was just a little girl.
Seeing her father, G Eswara Rao, workout at the gym gave her the initial push. Marrying at an early age and mothering two children, however, kept her away from the sport for some time. But not for long, as her bodybuilder husband, Srikanth, never came in the way of her passion.
Poorna, one of the three daughters of Eswara Rao and Narasi who originally hail from Anakapalli in Visakhapatnam, went on to win medals, earning a name for herself and the State. Despite his poor finances as he ran a meat store to support his family, Eswara never gave up bodybuilding, and insisted that Poorna get trained by her uncle and gym coach G Neela.
At the meet in Istanbul, Turkey, she won gold in the 52 kg category, which became the highlight of her five-year-old professional career. At the Federation Cup held in Kolkata in January of 2019, she won bronze; she secured the third spot at the junior national powerlifting competition in Kerala in the same year.
However, bagging the top spot in the South India Powerlifting competition (held in Hyderabad in January, 2020) and junior nationals in Punjab later in October gave her the much-needed impetus to play and win at an international event. “If not for the encouragement from my father, uncle and, later, my husband, I wouldn’t have been in the place I am today,” a humble Poorna said.
“Youngsters, especially girls, should pursue both academics and sports. In my case, I am also grateful for the support from my college correspondent Rajagopal Reddy.” After her recent win, she hopes that the government sponsors her training for the upcoming Commonwealth Games.