Aswathi Raj with the gold medal
Aswathi Raj is a gold medal winner in the 35th National Games, Kerala. She is from a modest family at Orkkatteri in Kozhikode district. She enters into fencing quite unexpectedly. However, once she selected in fencing at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre, Thalasseri, she has proved her talent and brought laurels to the state.
Aswathi shares her experience during a brief interview with the CNM at her residence.
“Actually I wanted to be part of athletics and I went for selection keeping the same in my mind.I didn’t get selection in athletics, first. Instead, SAI instructors suggested basket ball, considering my height.”
“I tried basket ball too. But, the third option was really my destiny. I got selection in fencing.”
“I was quite unaware of this game at that time.”
She said that during the initial stages, training was really tough. There were occasions, she fainted.
But, she took it as a challenge and learned the complicated game very well.
She said that coaches at SAI centre, Sagar Suresh Lagu and SheejaV.K have been really, motivating .They gave that much supports to go ahead with this game.
Aswathi has participated and won medals in various tournaments in India and abroad.
Aswathi is the daughter of P.K.Rajan and Sathyabahama.She has one brother; Brijith Raj.
Her father is working in the gulf.
Sathyabhama says Aswathy had an interest in sports since childhood. She used to participate in athletics while studying in upper primary classes.
“But, fencing was really a new experience to her. Sometimes, I thought she must quit from this game, regarding the tough practice. “-she says.
Aswathi’s family suffered lot due to financial difficulties when she longed to participate in many international events.
Once, she got a chance to take part in a London event. There was no government aid for that individual item. At that time nobody came to support. At last, her father pledged some gold and made her dream into reality. She took part in that event in 2012.
Aswathi got bronze medal in under seventeen championship held in Philippines (2010). She also participated in two Junior Asian Championships in Thailand and Indonesia (2013). She competed in the Commonwealth Games also.
Apart from staying full time at SAI centre for training, Aswathi pursues her studies. She is doing her MBA from Anna University. Even if it is a regular course, she gets considerations thanks to being a national sports star.
During her UG classes; she says that her studies were seriously affected thanks to her passion for sports.
Fencing requires huge amount of money from the very beginning of training.
Its sportswear is costly. The price of fencing sword is Rs.1lakh.So; fencing is only affordable to rich people.
Here, Aswathi got SAI’s support. Still, there are many international tournaments for which participants have to meet their own expenses.
Asawathi won gold medal in epee segment in the National Games fencing.
It is a full body targeted fighting. Gadgets for protecting breasts, masks for covering face and head are also part of the intensive safety measures taken, during the competition.
“If you press the sword in at least 750 gm pressure, then only you will get score.”-Aswathy explains the event.
“During the 35th National Games I had a tough fight with Manipur player.”
Most often this game moves in a neck and neck contest.
She has been practicing fencing for the last seven years.
Every morning she would engage in training between 6 am and 8 am. Similarly she repeats the same in the evening at 4.30 to 7.30
“Fencing requires hard work, confidence and boldness. I got my families’ support, greatly.”-Aswathi says.
Immediately after the National Games, she joined her fencing team and competed at Maharashtra in the Senior National and won gold in team event. In the Youth National event, both individual and team segment, Aswathi won silver.
Under 23, Asian tournament is the major upcoming event. However, its schedule has not yet been confirmed.
Aswathy’s next dream is to participate and win the Asian Games fencing gold.
The state government had offered government jobs for the National Games medalists.
Aswathi’s plan is to continue to play this game along with the job.
If you ask what the missing factor is; when she travels for games, Aswathi would say with a smile:
“I miss my homely food, especially when I leave Kerala.”
Aswathi is always a fan of her mothers’ cooking, mainly rice and curry.
She reaches her house very rarely, since the training is a regular activity at SAI centre. Until recently, many of her native people didn’t know Aswathi.
But this time, when she returned back from the National games and Maharashtra event, fluxes and banners were aplenty at Orkkatteri town, appreciating Aswathi. And, definitely, she had to attend as many as reception programs in and around her place.