For her daughter’s sake, 35-year-old Gursharan Preet Kaur is back on wrestling mat and winning too

Kaur, 35 and separated, has returned to wrestling after six years to support her five-year-old daughter.

Ahead of the wrestling dangal in Panipat, Gursharan Preet Kaur had to decide whether to compete at the event which had a total prize money of Rs 1 crore or attend her brother’s marriage on March 23. After much deliberation, the Punjab wrestler decided to skip the wedding.

The trip to Panipat was worth it in more ways than one as she won the final of the women’s 72 kg category, defeating national champion Kiran 5-1. She was awarded Rs 10 lakh for winning the gold medal. Her bouts, including the final, were one-sided and barring one, she won all her bouts via technical superiority.

“Even if there was no money, I would have come,” Kaur said after the final. “But I wanted to come to wrestle. I have missed the sport for too long.”

The 35-year-old is making a comeback to the sport after being away for seven years, having last competed at an inter-police competition in 2012. Her face wears a worn-out look because of the regular grind on the mat and partially because of working the fields in her village...

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...“My in-laws told me that they wanted to have a boy and when our daughter was born, they beat me again and asked me to leave. My husband told me I have to choose between him and my daughter. I chose my daughter.”...

...With her daughter, who is now five, growing up and with a case to fight, money became another hurdle. To overcome that she decided to wrestle again and in May 2018, began training at the Punjab Police Academy, Jalandhar.

Her first competition was the senior national championships in December last year where she finished fourth after losing a close bronze-medal bout. That, however, did not deter her from trying again.

Recently at the All-India Police Games in Jaipur, Kaur won the gold medal in the 72 kg category and then, won a local dangal in Punjab. In Panipat, she was the favourite to win the gold medal...

...“Internationally I have represented India 33 times but won medals in just 11 competitions. At five Asian Championships, I have finished fourth. Those days, women’s wrestling wasn’t given much preference.” she says.

Now, Kaur hopes that she can return to her peak form.

“Six months is all I need. I think by the time the trials for World Championships come and I am allowed to compete in it, I will win one-sided.”

Kaur will have to write to the Wrestling Federation of India to allow her to take part in the trials as she is not part of the national camp in Lucknow, a place where Kaur wants to return.

“When I met the girls at the national championships in Gonda, I cried. There was Sakshi, Vinesh, Lalita and everybody else. I never thought I will be with them again.”

“I don’t want to cry again. I want to wrestle and enjoy my time on the mat. I am not afraid anymore.”

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