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Four times International gold medalist and 16 times gold medal winner, Koijam Usharani has scripted her success story as a Karate player. However, poverty and desperation have forced this young star to quit on her passion amid the pandemic.
A resident of the Loitang Khullen Village in Manipur, Usharani had to give up on the sport due to her family's financial constraints and lack of government help. She has taken up domestic work in an attempt to her family tide over the crisis.
The Player's Ordeals
"I got disheartened and I was in depression as I had to quit playing and the situation got worse as I lost my mother," Usharani told ANI.
She shared that she did not receive any assistance from the government when she played for the state. She said that despite being selected innumerable times for International games she had to let go of those opportunities due to financial constraints.
"I would like to request the government to help me and other players who are struggling like me," she said.
Her coach proudly said that she won several medals in Karate camps across the country. She bagged her first medal was in the national Karate-Do Championship in 2005 in Tamil Nadu.
Koijam Ongbi Jershima, Usharani's sister-in-law, told ANI "I want the government to encourage the players of the state. I don't want them to lose their skills and potential. They have worked hard."
To make ends meet, Jershima has been working in a stone-crushing unit and earns ₹300 per day.
Despite the challenges, Usharani is running a Karate Academy to train the poor children in the village.
During the two phases of the pandemic, multiple media reports highlighted the pitiful conditions of several athletes that had once brought laurels to the nation. Without support from the government, especially during a crisis, these players have been left to fend for themselves and are struggling to arrange for two square meals a day. It is important to take note that these sportspersons who were once celebrated for their skills are resorting to odd jobs like selling vegetables and fried food. Braving hardships— both physical and mental, these sportspersons fight for the country and it should be the county's responsibility to ensure support to boost their morale.
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