Judoka Sushila shows dexterity — on the mat, in the kitchen


By Navneet Singh
New Delhi, July 4 (IANS) While French judo coach Rodrigue Chenet has been fine tuning Sushila Devi’s skill at an Olympic preparatory camp in Chateau Gontier, France, the Indian judoka has been cooking Indian delicacies for him at weekends.

Sushila, 24, who has qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games in the women’s 48kg category, and Jasleen Singh Saini (men’s 66kg category) are training under Chenet at a month-long camp that began in the second week of last month.

“We often make Indian food at Chenet’s home at weekends, the rest day for us. Today, Sushila cooked chicken. We also had aloo ka paratha for breakfast. Everyone enjoyed the Indian food. It was fun after hard training sessions during weekdays,” the Indian team coach, Jiwan Sharma, told IANS from Chateau Gontier on Sunday.

Sushila was allotted continental quota last month by the International Judo Federation (IJF) as she had collected maximum points (1009) in her 48kg weight category.

The month-long camp in France will conclude next Friday. The Manipur judoka will train in Delhi before leaving for Japan for the Olympics.

According to Sharma, the focus in the final phase of training will be a combination of physical and mental training.

“With less than 20 days to go for the Olympics our main focus is on polishing the technique as well as mental aspect of the athlete so that she is able to handle pressure of competing on her Olympic debut,” Sharma said of her final preparation.

To prepare for the quadrennial Games, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) had sanctioned the camp for Sushila in France.

“There are good sparring partners here in Chateau Gontier. The local French coach was also a good help,” said Sharma.

Sushila’s last international competition was the Budapest World Judo Championships held in the first week of June. But she crashed out in the first round of the 48kg category, losing to Mary Dee Vargas of Chile.

Saini, the other Indian judoka in Budapest, also lost his opening bout, in the men’s 66kg category.

The eight-day long tournament in Hungary was the last Olympic qualification event that offered valuable world ranking points.

“The World Championships was a good learning lesson for Sushila. We hope she makes a good impression in Japan,” said Sharma.


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