Karnataka women in Commonwealth basketball squad for the first time

Two women recently made Karnataka proud. Navaneetha PU and Bhandavya KM of South Western Railway, Mysuru division represented India at the recently concluded Commonwealth games in Australia which took place from April 5th to the 15th. It is a first for Karnataka and the girls. It is another matter that the team exited the tournament after three consecutive losses. Uday Kumar spoke to them just before they departed for the games.

Navaneetha PU and Bhandavya KM represent South Western Railways Mysuru Division. Both hail from agricultural families and their background was not conducive for their achievements. What they have achieved is despite this rural background, lack of facilities for training and opportunities to train with the best. In that it is remarkable.

22 year old Navaneetha, the 178cm forward player has played for the U-16 team in 2009 at FIBA Asia U-16 championship for women in Pune where she finished as the second highest scorer with 10.7 points per game. Navaneetha is the daughter of PP Udhay Kumar and PU Girija, residents of Suntikoppa, Kodagu.

She works in the electrical department in Mysuru division. Speaking to Karnataka Today, Navaneetha said “I am feeling happy and great. This is my first Commonwealth games and it’s a dream come true. I didn’t expect the selection but continued to put in the hard work required for the selection. For the first time I represented India in 2009 later I couldn’t make it to Indian team but was a regular member of state team. But in 2017, my effort yielded result as I got selected to represent India in the Senior FIBA Asia Cup. This year I led Indian Railway basketball team which emerged as champions in the senior national basketball championship held at Chennai. Due to my consistent performance in the senior nationals I got selected for common wealth games”. She also thanked DYES coaches Girish and Patil. 19 year old Bhandavya, hailing from Mandya is the other girl who was selected to represent India at the Commonwealth games.

Though she is just 19 years old, she is a regular member of state team (18 nationals) and represented India on five occasions and this is for the first time she got selected for the Commonwealth games. She has also represented India in junior categories. She is working as a junior clerk in personnel branch, Mysuru division. She is a three point shooter and has won many games for not only the state but also for India. This is what she told this reporter, “Feeling great with the selection. Want to do well and bring more laurels to the country and state. I want to thank all my coaches including Ravi Prakash and Girish sir. Apart from this parents and my team mates have also had a big role to play in my achievements”. Ravi Prakash who has trained Bhandavya for more than nine years said “Really it feels great that our student got selected for common wealth games. It’s because of her dedication and determination she managed to excel in the game. She is just 19 years and has potential to excel more in the field”. Ravi Prakash, a qualified NIS coach has groomed many promising basketball players from Mandya who have not only represented the state but also represented the country.

Gururaja Poojary makes Karnataka proud with a silver medal in Weightlifting

For a man who couldn’t get a hang of how to lift the bar for the longest time, weightlifter GururajaPoojary said he hasn’t done too badly for himself as he reflected on the silver around his neck that opened India’s medal account in the 21st Commonwealth Games on Thursday.

The 25-year-old, hailing from a small village Chitturu in Karnataka, could hardly stop smiling as he soaked in the attention that came with being the ceremonial account-opener at the quadrennial event.

The moment didn’t come easy, as his first two attempts in clean and jerk had been declared invalid and he was under tremendous pressure in the final attempt. “After I failed the first two attempts, my coach reminded me how much my life depends on this. I remembered my family and my country,” he said when asked what went through his mind in those nervy moments. Gururajaequalled his personal best of 249kg (111kg+138kg) to finish second.

“When I started in 2010, in the first month of my training, I was so frustrated because I didn’t even know how to lift a bar. It was too heavy for me,” he said.
That is hardly something an aspiring weightlifter would complain of, only that Gururaja aspired to be a wrestler, inspired by a certain Sushil Kumar.
“I remember I had seen Sushil Kumar wrestle in the 2010 CWG, I was just starting weightlifting at that time. When I saw him I really wanted to take up wrestling. Then I met my coach Rajendra Prasad who taught me weightlifting,” he said. “I was trying to be a 42kg category wrestler and it (weightlifting) seemed impossible to me. Eventually, I got a hang of it,” he added.

An employee of the Indian Air Force, Gururaja has seen all the proverbial hardships of life that athletes from humble backgrounds endure in India. Having watched his truck driver father slog hard to raise eight children, Gururaja is determined to give his family a good life. “My family was on my mind when I failed the two attempts in clean and jerk, it meant a lot to me,” he said.

Asked whether he would still be interested in giving wrestling a shot, Gururaja broke into a laughter. “I still enjoy wrestling, I still love the sport a lot. I will prepare for the Olympics, I have got a lot of support from the national federation and everyone who has been part of my journey. All my coaches have shaped me,” he said.

Report courtesy: https://www.firstpost.com/sports/commonwealth-games-2018-silver-medallist-gururaja-poojary-says-family-spurred-him-to-glory-at-gold-coast-4419053.html

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