In a rare feat, a 20-year-old from Kuruburu, a village in Karnataka's Chikballapur district has been awarded the Karnataka Kreeda Ratna award by the state government for her accomplishments in kho-kho, a popular contact sport.
M Veena was conferred with the award on Monday, November 2, in Bengaluru.
Veena has several awards to her credit including the Jhansirani Lakshmi Bai award she won at the 53rd senior national kho-kho championship in 2019-2020. She also won a gold medal at the 12th South Asian Games International held in Assam and participated at the 4th Asian Games Kho-Kho International Camp held in the national capital.
According to reports, Veena started practising kho-kho ten years ago while studying in Class 5 at the Vidyadarshini Convent. She has participated in many state competitions, national and international kho-kho events and has won a number of titles.
"I practise for more than five hours every day. The game has given me popularity and I feel happy. My wish is to participate in more international events, give more outstanding performances and aim for the Arjuna award, which would encourage fresh talent," she told The New Indian Express.
Recalling how she started her journey, Veena said, "We neither had a playground to practise nor a physical education teacher to train us. The knowledge about sports was zero. Despite facing several problems, opposition and discouragement from families and villagers, we continued practising relentlessly without giving up. Amidst all ups and downs, we started practising kho-kho at the coconut farm adjacent to the school. We are able to reach international level today because of K Manjunath who is the maths teacher in our school. He is the inspiration behind the achievements of several girls in the village."