Winning India’s seventh precious medal at the Commonwealth Games 2022, is our new hero Shushila Devi Likmabam. The judoka guaranteed herself a medal at the tournament after she won the Judo semifinal match against Mauritius’ Priscilla Morand by ippon. She went on to fight Michaela Whitebooi of South Africa in the finals, winning the silver medal in the women’s 48 kg category, giving her opponent a tough fight for the gold.
Born in 1995 in Manipur, this isn’t the first time Shushila has brought glory to the nation. She won the silver medal in the women’s 48 kg category in judo at the 2014 Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow. She also won the gold medal at the 2019 South Asian Games in the same weight class. At the 2020 Summer Olympics, she was the only representative for the country in Judo, but she got eliminated in the first round.
Speaking of Shushila’s recent win, this is India’s first medal at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games outside weightlifting. The end to end final encounter with Michaela went without either of them registering a single point at the end of regulation time, with both judokas not moving an inch till the referee blew the final whistle. The fight then entered the golden score period, and Shushila’s South African opponent finally won a point by effecting a Waza-ari, forcing her soulders to the mat, thus cinching the gold.
Judo runs in Shushila’s family; her uncle Dinik Singh is an international player-turned-coach. Her brother Shilakshi Singh, who is employed with the Border Security Force, had taken up Judo first, and as a child, Shushila used to follow him around, finally taking up the sport herself. From the Sports Authority of India centre in Imphal, Shushila progressed to the National Centre of Excellence in Patiala. Speaking about her time there, she recalls how she had never dreamed that she would play internationally or even win medals for the country.
While Shushila looked up to athletes like Mary Kom, she herself has proved to be an inspiration for several young athletes in India, and we wish her all the more success in the future.
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