New Delhi: Inspired by legend MC Mary Kom to excel in boxing, 2019 World Women's Boxing Championship silver medallist Manju Rani to emulate her idol and bag a medal in the Olympic Games.
Now, back to full-speed training after the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted her schedule, Manju has her eyes set on the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and is planning to go all out in her pursuit despite the various hardships.
"I wish to represent my country at the 2024 Olympics in Paris. India has done well in the 2020 Olympics, and I hope I can achieve similar success," she said.
The 22-year-old Manju was training at her hometown village of Rithal in Rohtak district of Haryana when she witnessed Mary Kom win the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Mary Kom's historic win inspired Manju to continue with boxing despite several hardships in her career. In 2019, Manju's hard work reaped rewards when she won the silver medal in the Women's Boxing World Championships.
"It was the proudest moment of my career. After Mary Kom, I was the second women boxer from India to win the silver medal at the age of 20 at the World Championships. It was a very proud moment for me and my family," said Manju Rani.
In 2010, Manju lost her father, which led to her family going through financial hardships. She struggled to maintain her diet as an athlete at the time but received much support from her mother who pushed her to continue on this journey.
"The life of every athlete is filled with struggles. But I am thankful for the support I received from my mother," she was quoted as saying in a release by Dream Sports Foundation.
"My motivation is to fulfill the dreams of my family. My mother has supported me all the time, so I want to support her for as long as I can. I want to make my mother proud," Manju, who missed a spot in the Indian team for the Commonwealth Games after losing to statemate Nitu in the final of the 48kg class in the trials last week, added.
Starting her career in kabaddi, Manju decided to switch disciplines because she wanted to pursue an individual sport. She struggled to get many opportunities to perform in her home state of Haryana, so she decided to move to neighbouring Punjab, where she went on to become the state champion and went on to win the junior and senior Nationals.
On the back of her performance in the Nationals, Manju Rani was selected for the Indian camp, and soon she received opportunities to participate in the international events.
"Mary Kom's win has been a big stepping stone in the careers of all the women boxers in India. Her win inspired us all to pursue the sport and she has been a role model for all the athletes, and they always try to emulate her success," Manju said. In 2020, amid the Covid lockdown, Manju Rani faced struggles once again, unable to find support to fund her training and diet. With the lack of competitions, Manju also faced financial strains. At the time, she received support from Dream Sports Foundation's 'Back on Track' initiative.
"The Back On Track initiative stepped in at a crucial time. They provided me financial support because of which I was able to maintain my diet and continue my training. It helped me in reviving my career. They met all of my requirements which I needed to sustain my career," Manju Rani said.
DSF has also recently collaborated with the Mary Kom Regional Boxing Foundation to nurture and support 30 young and talented boxers, with 20 of them being women.—IANS