Who is Shushila Devi - Indian judoka won silver in the 48kg judo final at Commonwealth Games

Here’s everything you need to know about judoka Shushila Devi who won silver in the 48kg judo final at Birmingham Commonwealth Games on Monday.

Silver medallist Shushila Devi Likmabam of Team India seen during the Judo Women - 48 kg medal ceremony  at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on Monday.

Silver medallist Shushila Devi Likmabam of Team India seen during the Judo Women - 48 kg medal ceremony at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on Monday. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Here’s everything you need to know about judoka Shushila Devi who won silver in the 48kg judo final at Birmingham Commonwealth Games on Monday.

Indian judoka Shushila Devi won a silver medal in the women’s 48kg judo category at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games on Monday. Here’s everything you need to know about Devi and her journey in the sport.

Shushila, a Tokyo Olympian, is leading India’s charge at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Past achievements
Silver medal: 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games
Gold medal: 2019 South Asian Games
The sole Indian judoka who qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Silver medal: 2022 Commonwealth Games, Birmingham

Copycat turned judoka

Judo runs in the family. Shushila’s uncle Dinik Singh, an international player-turned-coach, inspired her brother Shilakshi Singh to take up the sport. As a child, Shushila would follow Shilakshi all around. “Wherever I went, she would tag along. She would always follow me around,” Shilakshi, now employed with the Border Security Force, told Sportstar in 2021.

So when Shilakshi enrolled in judo classes at the nearby Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Imphal, it was little surprise that Shushila would be his plus one. Shilakshi would cycle the two of them nearly 10km every day, with Shushila sitting at the back and clinging on to him.

Shushila’s mental toughness took her a long way. After impressing at the SAI centre, she progressed to the National Centre of Excellence in Patiala. It was here that she opened up to the possibility of sport as a career.

“At that time I never dreamt that I would be an Olympian or play at an international level. I just liked the sport. Patiala had top athletes from various disciplines and I used to see how they trained and practised. I used to look up to the likes of Mary Kom and the top judokas. I used to watch their practice sessions,” she said.

Her career took off at Patiala after coach Jiwan Sharma took her under his wings. “What I first noticed about her was that her willpower was very strong - she never gives up. She was never scared to lose and knew how to digest a defeat,” says the Dronacharya Awardee.

She distinctly remembers Jiwan talking about global competitions and the Olympics and how she innocuously asked him, “ 

The Manipuri judoka, who competes in the 48kg category, went on to win all the national level meets and clinched silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Jiwan moved to JSW Sports’ Inspire Institute of Sport and Shushila soon joined its roster. She won bronze at the 2015 Junior Asian Championships.

India’s performance in judo at the Commonwealth Games
India have won eight medals in judo at the Commonwealth Games, including three silvers and five bronze. Four of these medals – two silvers and two bronze – came in the 2014 edition.

Contemplated quitting judo

Despite her mental tenacity, there came a time when she considered quitting the sport in 2018. A hamstring injury sidelined her for nearly seven months and she subsequently lost in the Asian Games trials. “I was shattered. I felt my judo career was over. The goal was to qualify for the Asian Games and use that as a platform to prepare for the Olympics. I was heartbroken and went back home for three months to take a break,” she said.

She made a successful comeback and won successive silver medals at the Hong Kong Open in 2018 and 2019. But her path to the Olympics was to be riddled with more obstacles. Running out of money, she was forced to sell her Maruti Suzuki Alto car to fund her competition expenses.

Shilakshi said, “She was forced to use her own money to travel. The federation sends the judokas only for top events like the World Championships and Asian Championships, but they don’t send athletes to other qualifying events such as Grand Prix and Grand Slams. She took many loans and even sold her car to fund her trips. Judo also does not have many sponsors because we have never won an Olympic medal. Each tour would cost at least 50,000 rupees.”

Shushila said then, “I have put everything into judo, I have nothing left for now.”

Tokyo Olympics performance

Indian judoka  Shushila Devi Likmabam made an early exit from the  Tokyo Olympics after losing 10-0 to Hungary’s  Eva Csernoviczki in the opening round of the women’s 48kg on Saturday.

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