Name: Babita Kumari
Category: Women's 53kg freestyle
Past CWG performances: Gold medal in Women's 55 kg category at 2014 Commonwealth Games; Silver medal in Women's 51 kg category at 2010 Commonwealth Games
Best performance: Bronze medal at 2012 World Championships
Babita Kumari has earned the right to be mentioned in the same breath as some of India's finest sports persons after her achievements on the global stage in the past decade. The wrestler's career was expected to hit the peak in Rio in 2016, where she was one of the pre-tournament favourites to land a medal. However, Babita was stunned in the opening bout by Greek wrestler Maria Prevolaraki, who beat her 5-1 to leave her dreams of an Olympic medal in tatters.
The 28-year-old hasn't returned to the mat at the international stage since. Injuries to both her knees hampered her bid to make a comeback. An appearance in the Pro Wrestling League (PWL) also didn't end well as Babita was beaten in 46 seconds by Sofia Mattsson. The result was followed by the news that the Bhiwani wrestler would miss the entire season due to injury.
Details of the injury plaguing the 28-year-old have been few and far, but in an interview to the New Indian Express, Babita revealed that the injury almost forced her to give up on wrestling.
"Both my knees were injured badly. I never thought I will return to the mat. Doctors asked me not to wrestle. But after some time, I started training, despite the pain. Only my family supported me. But I was strong.” Babita told the New Indian Express.
However, Babita made the cut for the 2018 Commonwealth Games following a selection trial, where she will be competing the 53 kg category.
The 2014 CWG gold medalist though appears to be on track for the Goal Coast event after making several changes to her training regime to maintain a premium level of fitness required to compet at the highest level.
“These days, I have made a lot of modifications. Some of the old methods are painful, and I am working on how to do it differently.
"I am training in Bengaluru right now. There is a camp scheduled in Lucknow as well. The federation is planning a trip to Japan in the first or second week of March. I hope I can go there and make my country proud.” added Babita in the New Indian Express report.
With very little match practice under her belt, the Goal Coast Games may come too soon for Babita to truly hit her stride, but her history in the competition might just spur her on to bring her best game to the plate in Australia. As clichéd as it may sound, form is temporary and class is permanent, and that's what Babita will have to believe in when she steps on the mat at the 2018 Commonwealth Games as she begins road to redemption.
Updated Date: Mar 26, 2018 18:29 PM