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Karate kids show the way

- Six girls beat financial hardships to bag medals at international meet

Talent does not distinguish between the rich and poor. Only, one should never give up despite all odds. A group of girls from Ranchi’s Hatma Basti will certainly agree.

The girls have punched and kicked their way out of poverty to win several medals, including two gold, at the international karate championship (five to 17 years) held in Delhi on April 27-28.

The winners, who themselves have to work at neighbours’ households to earn a few extra penny to support their education, returned to the state capital on May 6.

“I could never have imagined that I would ever win a medal in an international event. Now, I have become greedy and want to bag more medals for myself and the state,” said Priya Bara, a Class VII student of Government Girls High School, Bariatu, who clinched gold at the 9th Kotaka’s Cup, an international karate championship held at Delhi’s Talkatore stadium.

Priya’s father Sunil Bara is no more and her mother Sunita does menial works to sustain the family. In her free time, Priya does household chores in the localities.

While Priya defeated her Japanese opponent, her friend Pallavi Kumari, daughter of electrician Vinod Lohra, got the better of her Malaysian rival to win gold.

“It was thrilling. I defeated my opponent 6-0,” said the Class IV of Marwari School, who too works at houses.

Priya and Pallavi, who also pocketed silver and bronze medals, respectively, besides gold, will now get a chance to prove their mettle in the next international karate championship in Bangkok in July.

Four other Hatma girls who have made the state proud are Alisha Bara, Payal Kumari, Sushma Kumari and Sonam Kumari, all hailing from poor families.

While Alisha won one silver and one bronze, Payal, Sushma and Sonam managed a bronze each.

“If the state government helps us, we will certainly win more medals at international events in the coming days,” said Alisha, daughter of night guard Navin Bara.

The girls’ Delhi campaign was sponsored by World Vision India, a development agency that works among children in poor localities. It recognised the talent of the girls and decided to train them in karate. Their travel and lodging expenses were borne by it. “We started training these girls in karate in May last year. They picked up the techniques of the martial art within a few months. Soon, they qualified for international karate championship by winning medals at the state and national championships last year,” said karate teacher Sunil Kispotta.

He added that special attention would be now paid to Priya and Pallavi to help them repeat the feat at the July meet.