New Delhi: Olympics remain the pinnacle of any sporting glory, ask any athlete around the world what he or she would like to achieve and almost immediate reply would be to win an Olympic medal. In India too, how successful an athlete is often decided by how he or she performs during the Olympics – a fortnight long event which comes once every four years.
But ask any Indian athlete and they won’t disagree; a medal winning performance at the biggest stage of them all makes you immortal. The likes of Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Sakshi Malik among others have etched their names into the history of Indian sports.
Now, a 20-year-old girl from Maharashtra, Reshma Mane has set her eyes firmly on Olympic glory. “It was my father’s dream to see me in the Olympics but now after taking up Wrestling, I too share the same dream,” says Reshma, whose father used to sell Sugarcane to make ends meet.
“But he never let that come in the way of my training; I was treated like a wrestler right from my childhood, he never compromised on anything,” she adds. So meticulous has been her preparation that she even took up swimming and gymnastics at a young age of 6 to develop her body for wrestling.
“All the credit goes to my father, he only suggested me to take up these sports with the aim of developing me into a wrestler. I started taking wrestling seriously only after the third standard but after that I fell in love with it” she says.
Coming from the state of the legendary KD Jadhav – who was also India’s first individual medallist at the Olympics, Reshma knows she has her task cut out. She first gained attention after winning Gold medals in senior and the junior championships in 2016, and has already represented India in Youth Olympics.
As is often the case with any sportsperson and especially women, Reshma has had to face a lot of challenges. “In my village none of the girls wrestle, more priority is given to studies. Even I was discouraged by the members of my village but my father supported me. I used to wrestle boys to practice but I think it’s normal, you have to face challenges in whatever field you choose,” she says.
The story sounds remarkably similar to ‘Dangal’ – the Aamir Khan movie which showed the struggles faced by the Phogat sisters before they won medals for India. “I saw that movie, first day first show. I couldn’t believe that such a good movie could be made on wrestling. I would like to thank Aamir ji, he showed the real life of a wrestler and also inspired many other girls to take up the sport, “she says, talking about the movie with a beaming smile.
It is ironic that she has replaced Geeta Phogat – whose life was the main inspiration behind the movie – in the third season of the Pro Wrestling League. The Olympic dream might still take some time to fulfill, though one can’t help but think of the words of the great Michael Phelps – who remains the most successful Olympian ever with 28 medals – including 23 golds.
Talking about his rather inhuman feat, Phelps had said: “You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.”