There is no shortage of sporting talent in India, but sadly, factors like lack of encouragement, uncertain prospects and minimal financial support nip the dream right in the bud for countless sportspersons.
14-year-old Shreya Jadhav from Mumbai aims to represent India and clinch the gold in taekwondo at the 2024 Olympics. She is already India’s U-14 taekwondo champion. And she has her father, Nitin Jadhav, standing behind her like a rock to aid and abet her.
Nitin is on a mission to not let what happens to scores of promising athletes happen to his daughter, and is leaving no stone unturned to fulfil Shreya’s dream.
Shreya was only four years old when she first set foot in the world of martial arts. Her forward-looking parents wanted to train their little girl in self-defence. “We all know how things aren’t safe for females, and we wanted our daughter to be able to defend herself. Thankfully, we were able to find an academy nearby,” recalls Nitin who works in the finance team of a private firm.
Interestingly, this academy also taught taekwondo and seeing Shreya’s flair in self-defence moves, none other than the renowned taekwondo coach, Bhaskar Karkera, reached out to her father to encourage the young athlete to learn the sport.
“He felt that she had great potential and with intense training and exposure, could easily represent India internationally. We were amazed but felt that we should give her a chance, as he must have seen some spark in her and as parents, we should help her hone it too,” he adds.
And rest, as they say, was history. The first competition Shreya was part of, a local one, earned her a bronze medal at the age of 10. That win encouraged Shreya, who practised harder and went on to win laurels at the local, regional, state and national levels.
The doting parents have been doing everything in their capacity to ensure that Shreya participates in each taekwondo meet in the country.
But her coach had 2024 Olympics in mind for this little champ, whose prowess in the sport was improving with each passing day. “For any athlete to qualify for the Olympics, they need to register and earn ranking points in the Global Membership System (GMS). Shreya can only achieve this if she participates in international competitions in the next five years,” Nitin informs.
The only glitch was that while Shreya’s parents could afford to send her to any competition held across the country, going abroad multiple times in a year was beyond their middle-class lifestyle.
“In 2017, I was able to send her to Thailand for an international taekwondo meet, where she won the gold medal. But that wasn’t enough. She needs to take part in a lot of international competitions to even qualify for the Olympics and sadly, that’s beyond our capacity. But I don’t want my daughter’s dream of participating as India’s representative and winning an Olympics medal in 2024 to fail as she has repeatedly proved her mettle at various platforms. I felt that crowdfunding would be the answer,” he hopefully adds.
Joining hands with the crowdfunding platform, ImpactGuru, Shreya and her parents hope to raise Rs 20 lakhs that will help cover her advanced training expenses and let her participate in international taekwondo competitions as well as gain the necessary experience required for Olympic qualification.
Shreya has the potential to earn accolades for herself, her parents and the country.
However, mounting expenses to participate in international competitions and qualifying for the Olympics is quite beyond the capacity of her parents’ financial state and might prevent her from achieving her dream.
We often complain about India not giving enough support to the field of sports except for cricket. Many promising athletes and sportspersons, often dream of reaching the Olympics, but lack of exposure and insufficient funds prevent them from fulfilling it.
Let’s not have that happen to Shreya. If you wish to support this passionate taekwondo champ to make it big and secure her Olympic dream, click here.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)