Poonam Khatri reaps reward for 'hard work' with Wushu World C'ships silver

Wushu World Championships silver medallist Poonam Khatri says though she had set her eyes on winning gold, winning silver is a "great feeling".

Poonam Khatri on the podium after winning silver medal at the Wushu World Championships.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Poonam Khatri wears three hats: of a martial artist, of a boxer, and of a mother.

“Her name is Paridhi and she is two-and-a-half years old,” says the 2019 Wushu World Championships silver medallist of her daughter.

The pregnancy forced Khatri out of action for months, but only from the physical aspect of her sport.

Poonam Khatri ended her maternity leave prematurely after three months and lost 15kg to make the cut for competitions.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

“I never really stayed away from the game as such. I would either study the sport, or about a particular rule. So, I used to keep myself occupied about what I can do better,” says Khatri, who ended her maternity leave prematurely after three months and lost 15kg to make the cut for competitions.

“It was a great feeling as I had been working very hard for a long time in order to try and win a medal for India. I had set out with gold in my mind, but had to settle for silver,” says Khatri, who placed second in the 75kg women’s sanda event at the worlds in October.

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The 33-year-old – who will next be taking part in the 2019 South Asian Games beginning in Nepal on Sunday – added that had she gotten a little more practice than the 35-day camp held in Bhopal, she might have cliched gold.

Sporting childhood

Born in Soldha village in Haryana’s Jhajjar district, Khatri took to sports in her childhood.

“As a schoolkid, I used to play kabaddi and kho kho. I was always fond of playing,” she says, adding that she first came across wushu when she saw a cousin take up the sport.

“Since I was already fond of contact sports, I eventually picked it up. My interest in playing and trying out the sport kept growing,” says Khatri, who took up the Chinese martial art at the age of 15.

Not just a wushu practitioner

Khatri got a job through sports quota in the Sashastra Seema Bal, an arm of India’s Central Armed Police Forces, and has won medals at all-India police boxing tournaments.

“Since we didn’t have wushu in the All-India Police Games, our coach suggested that I take part in boxing. My coach was confident that if I worked hard enough, I could produce good results,” says Khatri, who took up boxing in 2008 and has won two gold and one silver medal at the annual meet.

In fact, Khatri, who idolises six-time world champion M. C. Mary Kom, even won a gold medal at the 2013 World Police Games.

A seven-time Senior National Wushu Championships gold medallist, Khatri admits that managing her personal life has been a challenge, and that her husband and family have been very supportive. Her husband, Manjeet, is also her manager.

“I have received a lot of support from my husband, my parents and in-laws. They never make me feel that my absence is being felt. They have never asked me to leave my sport and focus on them. That’s the best thing that has happened to me,” she says.

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