Name: Divya Kakran
Category: 68 kg freestyle
Best performances: Gold at Commonwealth Wrestling Championship, silver at Asian Wrestling Championship
Before Divya Kakran clinched medals at the Asian and the Commonwealth Wrestling championships last year, she earned her reputation as the girl who comfortably defeated boys at various dangals across North India. It didn't take long for people to take notice of her talent. As Divya made her transition from mud pits to mats, she emerged as one of the most promising young talents in the sport. At the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, Divya will look to live up to the expectations – by winning the gold in the 68 kg freestyle category.
Hailing from Gokulpur, a neighbourhood in Delhi, Divya showed interests in wrestling when she was just five. She belongs to a family of wrestling enthusiasts. Her father, Suraj, tried to earn a name for himself in the sport before vanishing into oblivion. He wanted his son to pursue the sport, but when his daughter started showing potential, he made sure Divya takes the sport seriously.
For a young girl, there were not many chances in local wrestling competitions. Having faith in her daughter's ability, Suraj took the decision to make Divya wrestle with boys. The results were surprising at first but became a routine. She used to overcome her opponents so frequently that some bouts were declared draws as it became insulting for organisers to see a young girl pinning boys down.
While she earned her money winning competitions, her father did his bit by selling langots (cotton loin-cloth which wrestlers wear during bouts) outside the wrestling venue. When Divya won her first senior national gold medal in 2017, Suraj missed the moment as he was busy conduction his business. “I was selling langots outside the stadium. She is running our family. She wins, earns money and we live because of that. I thought I’ll make some money,” her father told to the Indian Express.
In 2017, Divya became the third Indian wrestler, after Vinesh Phogat and Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik, to win a silver at the senior Asian Wrestling Championships in New Delhi. Despite the defeat in the gold medal match against Japan’s Sara Dosho, Divya showed that she has what it takes to compete at the highest level. But soon, Divya suffered a setback as she had to stop wrestling for months because a stone was found in her kidney. As a result, she also missed the World Wrestling Championship held in Paris.
Once Divya made her recovery, she got going with a gold medal in wrestling Nationals held at Indore. Days later, she came close to win her bronze medal match at the U-23 World Wrestling Championship but lost to Danu Domikaityte of Lithuania. Divya showed good form at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship held at Johannesburg, where she clinched the gold medal.
Winning a gold at the Commonwealth Games would be a big positive for Divya, who is likely to be one of India's hopes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It's not going to be easy for her as wrestlers from countries like Nigeria and Canada are expected to give tough competition.
Click here to read profiles of other Indian athletes involved in the Commonwealth Games 2018
Updated Date: Mar 17, 2018 12:50:04 IST