A two-time Commonwealth Games medallist who is inspiring youngsters in Manipur to take up the sport

Shushila Devi shared her journey of how her uncle, himself a well-known judo player, inspired her to take up the sport. Devi has made India proud in major tournaments, winning medals in two Commonwealth Games.

Updated on 03/10/2023 | 8:49 p.m. IST

In judo, Shushila Devi won a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

Judo may not be a popular sport in India, but Shushila Devi – who hails from Manipur – has made India proud by winning two medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2022 stitches. Shushila Devi was also the only representative of India to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in judo.
In an exclusive interaction with timesnownews.com as part of a Times Now initiative – “Indian Superwomen: The Path To Glory” – presented by Morpheus Dare To Dream Music Cards, Devi shared her journey to finding her uncle, a well-known judo player himself, who inspired her them to take up the sport. Devi adores legendary Indian boxer Mary Kom.

Why she chose judo as a sport.

Shushila Devi: I started practicing judo at SAI hostel in Manipur. My uncle was an experienced judo player. Then I started at the inn along with Devendra Sir and Savitri Ma’am from the base level. I started in November 2002. Next year in February-March I went to Calcutta for the Sub-Juniors. I got bronze at my first national. In 2005 I visited the hostel and in 2009 the National Competence Center in Patiala. There I met Jivan Sir and have been training under him ever since.

About the difference between 2 Commonwealth Games medals she has won.

Shushila Devi: In 2014 my first competition was held at senior level. I wasn’t very mature then. I faced an English player in the final and I was nervous before the fight. Judo was not very developed in India then compared to today. In July 2022, after my experience in the Olympics, my body had many injuries and I also broke my ankle, resulting in stitches.

About the challenges at the beginning of her career.

Shushila Devi: I’ve always challenged myself to work from my insights, set new goals and achieve them. I never thought about getting a job. Sport was the only thing on my mind all the time. Whenever I got angry or had a fight with someone, I would control myself and express myself during the practice.

About Indian superwomen who played a role in her journey.

Shushila Devi: From my childhood, the first role model I saw was Mary Kom Didi. Then in weightlifting there is Kunjarani Devi. I also read about her when I was in school. When I was a child, she came to our village in a navy blue dress, where she was congratulated. I was inspired to do something similar.

On PM Narendra Modi constantly encouraging and interacting with athletes.

Shushila Devi: When I qualified for the Olympics, he tweeted about me…I went insane with joy because I never thought something like this would happen. Manipur’s CM Biren Singh also tweeted about me. I took all the screenshots and decided to frame them. It could be the first time that the country’s PM and CM meet and interact with the athletes face to face. That will motivate many.

With the support of SAI and the government.

Shushila Devi: Everything has changed now. We are now getting a lot of support from SAI, TOPS as well as the Khelo India program. Athletes gain experience by participating in more and more events. Even when I’m at home, I don’t forget the great support I received from SAI and TOPS. The Ministry of Sport has given us respect for our hard work.

To more women athletes doing well in sporting events for India.

Shushila Devi: The mindset used to be different when parents thought of not doing much for their daughters as they needed to get married. The focus was more on boys’ education…but now everyone is treated equally and parents support both boys and girls.

On her message for young women who want to be like her and make the country proud.

Shushila Devi: When I returned to the village with a medal, the young girls here believed that if I could do it, they could do something similar too. They had no idea that we could achieve something great in judo as well. If I win a medal, the children here have the motivation to do something. Many girls here are now interested in sports.

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