Mumbai-based 17-year-old Apoorva Patil bags the gold in the Commonwealth Judo Championship held in Great Britain.
At an age when most girls are worrying about outfits and parties, Mumbai teenager Apoorva Patil has donned her judogi and won the gold at the Commonwealth Judo Championship that was held in the United Kingdom between September 25 and 29. Thrilled with the achievement and still jetlagged, the 17-year-old beat England’s Megan Douglas to win the title in 70kg women’s category.
“It’s a great feeling to win the medal at a prestigious platform. I had a great time with the other participants, and also got exposure. I still have a long way to go, and I am focusing on that,” says Apoorva, who lives in Thane and is a 12-grade student at S. K. Somaiya Vinay Mandir.
Having started at the age of 10, Apoorva has won several medals in the Under-15 category at national and international levels. But this is her first in the Under-20 category. Coached by Devidingh Rajput, Apoorva was chosen after rigorous selection procedures, including her promising performance in Cadets Asian Cup 2018 held in Macau, as well as the Asian Cadets and Junior Judo Championships 2018 in Lebanon.
“I started judo just for fun, but after a few years I understood that this is my call and I want to take my practices forward,” says Apoorva and adds that her coach helps her with practice and workouts. “I practice for a minimum four hours a day and I was confident about my training. My coach, teachers and family have made this success possible,” she shares.
Hailing from a family where her father is a policeman and mother is a homemaker, Apoorva aims to serve the nation by becoming an IPS officer. Soon after returning from the championship, she is now eyeing the 2024 Olympic Games. “I am pretty much confident about my practice, and I know I will achieve my dream. I understand that both are difficult dreams, but my college supports me in every manner possible,” the teen explains.
While not many girls would take up judo owing to injuries, Apoorva finds strength in them. “My injuries and marks are my strength, and they are part of the game. I forget all the injuries as soon as I win any championship. In a way, all the marks on my body help me celebrate my victory,” muses the winner. When asked if her family was apprehensive of her taking up a manly sport, she shakes her head ‘no’.
“Not at all. They were absolutely fine and have supported me throughout. I have always been allowed to do what I feel like doing, and winning this wouldn’t have been possible without my parents,” she insists and adds that challenges in any sport are the same, regardless of gender. “The challenges will be the same. But women are different biologically, and then it becomes a challenge when you literally have to throw your opponent,” she explains.
Participating in an international forum can be a task for anyone, and Apoorva is no different. She says that learning is different in India from abroad. “Their training is different from us Indians. Their applications or applying their techniques are different, so understanding their mind is difficult. They are smart and participating with them takes a lot of focus,” she reveals.
Although Apoorva is still a teenager, she has advice for all the aspiring girls who want to take up judo as their career or hobby. “I would say they need to be focused. There is no difference between man and woman, and if they want to achieve it, they eventually will,” she signs off.