Won’t rest till I get gold: Judoka Tulika Maan

Judoka Maan optimistic of top finish next time around after settling for silver

Tulika Maan in tears during the medal ceremony at Birmingham on Wednesday. Pic/PTI

Judoka Tulika Maan did not want to leave the arena. She lay motionless for almost a full minute before getting up and her eyes were filled with tears. She had fought all odds to get here. Hers has been a tough life right from childhood and then a few months ago, she and her coach had to fight to even get a trial to make the 2022 CWG team.

An overweight Tulika, who was once over 110 kg, had to bring down her weight by almost 30kg to get more agile in the arena. She had even won two Commonwealth Championships in 2018 (Jaipur) and 2019 (Walsall, UK), but was not picked for the trial till she and her coach fought for it. 

When the weight categories were first decided for the Indian judo team to Birmingham, India had six quota places, but Tulika’s weight category +78 kg was not included by the federation, which was also sharply divided. Her coach in Bhopal, Yashpal Solanki, who had moulded her career, and Jiwan Sharma, who is team’s coach here, fought for her. It was a long tussle and finally, on the basis of her international performances, she was given a trial during which she got the nod.

Also Read: Weightlifter Gurdeep bags bronze at Commonwealth Games 2022

Raised by a single mother

Tulika, who does not have a job yet, was raised by a single mother, who made immense sacrifices to further her career in judo, which started off as something to keep her busy and out of mischief. It turned into a career and has paid off in the form of a silver medal here.

“I’m not satisfied. I did not come here to win a silver,” said Tulika with tears in her eyes. “The next time I’m competing in the CWG, I have to change the colour of this medal. I am not going to rest till I get a gold,” added Tulika. 

Against all odds

Getting a trial and then a place in the team was the latest of Tulika’s challenges. Her parents separated when she was just three. Mum Amrita, who works for Delhi police, used withdrawals from her Provident Fund to further her daughter’s career. She also wanted her to grow away from a police station, where she often had to take Tulika, who was too young to be left alone. So, Tulika was sent to Bhopal to train with Solanki, and the rest is history.

Tulika beat Tracy Durhone of Mauritius by Ippon in the quarter-finals and then New Zealand’s Sydnee Andrews to get to the final, where she lost by an Ippon to Sarah Adlington of Scotland. This was India’s third medal in judo at these Games after L Shushila Devi (-48kg) and Vijay Kumar (-60 kg) had claimed a silver and a bronze respectively.

Originally published at www.mid-day.com

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