KIUG: Daughter of Tripura bicycle mechanic, Asmita pins hope on UP beyond medal
Asmita recently returned with a silver medal from the Kuwait City Asian Open 2023 in April

Guwahati: “Sports wasn’t the easiest of choices as my father had to support our family of five, but I have always been a firm believer of the saying ‘Tu bas irade majboot kar, baki sab Mahadev dekh lenge (You just strengthen your intentions, the rest god (mahadev/shiva) will see)’, says Tripura judoka Asmita Dey, as she prepares for an afternoon training session ahead of the 3rd edition of the Khelo India University Games (KIUG), starting May 25 across four locations in Uttar Pradesh.

The bicycle repair shop of Arjun Kumar Dey at College Square area at Satmura in Belonia of South Tripura district

Daughter of a bicycle mechanic, Asmita is deservingly one of the very few Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) development athletes from the Northeastern state. She is eyeing a second gold at the upcoming KIUG after topping the podium in the Bengaluru edition.

Asmita also harbours ambitions of representing the country in the near future and has precisely set her eyes at the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

But for now, the focus is on the Khelo India University Games, where she will be representing Bhopal’s Barkatullah University in women’s 48kg category, and more than that, for the verification process of a constable post in the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Police.

UP Police? But why?

Tripura judoka Asmita Dey with her gold medal at the Inter-University tournament in January 2023

“Well, they have considered my economically weaker background and also allowed me to continue with my training and competitions along with the job. I have already cleared the fitness test and I am now awaiting the verification process,” Asmita candidly replied.

Born to Arjun Kumar Dey, who runs a bicycle repair shop at the College Square area at Satmura in Belonia of South Tripura district, Asmita is one of the three daughters in the family. She found her interest in sports at the age of 10 years and started off as an athlete in middle distance running (800 meters). Such was her passion for the discipline that she was selected in the district trials.

“My entry into this sport is a coincidence. Initially, I was in athletics, and the 800 meters was my favourite event. I even got selected in the district trials,” she said.

Judo was never on the menu! But as fate would have it, her first coach Bina Debnath of Belonia Vidyapeeth Coaching Centre, figured out that Asmita could be a good fit for contact sport. The coach offered an option of getting her admitted to the acclaimed Tripura Sports School in Agartala if she wished to switch to judo.

It took a while for young Asmita to get used to the new discipline after she decided to take up the port. But once she got a hang of it, she never looked back. From the family, Asmita said that her father had always backed her choices and despite all hardships on the financial front, he would urge her to continue with her desired sport.

Tripura judoka Asmita Dey being felicitated by former President Ram Nath Kovind for her feats.

“My father has always been very supportive. He runs a bicycle repair shop, and despite the limited income, he would always encourage me to pursue my dreams and not worry about the finances. My mother would occasionally get frustrated. She asked me to quit a couple of times, but eventually she understood how much it meant for me,” Asmita told EastMojo.

In 2015, Asmita was admitted to the Tripura Sports School, and during her stint at the academy under the watchful eyes of Manik Lal Dev, she went on to win a gold medal in the National School Games in 2017 and a silver in the inaugural Khelo India School Games in 2018.

That same year, the youngster was selected to join the SAI Regional Centre in Bhopal. The Tripura girl then won a silver in the 40kg category at the inaugural Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG) in Delhi before finishing second in the Guwahati edition in 2020 in the 48kg division.

Asmita recently returned with a silver medal from the Kuwait City Asian Open 2023 in April

“The facilities at the Bhopal SAI centre are excellent. The food and accommodation are good and the athletes are well taken care of. Usually, I practice in two to three shifts during the day. My coach, Yashpal Solanki, takes complete care of me,” she said.

Gunning for another podium finish, Asmita believes her experience of participating in various editions of the multi-sport event will keep her in good stead for the Lucknow edition.

“I have experiences of participating in the Khelo India Games. I took part in the first edition of the Khelo India Youth Games held in Delhi. I won a silver medal in the 40kg category that year. Later, I competed in Guwahati and won another silver medal. This time, I won a medal in the 48 kg category,” she recounted.

After Bengaluru, her current target is to win gold in Lucknow. “My preparation is going well. My dream is to win a medal for the country in the Olympics, and I am working hard with full dedication for it,” she added.

Hailing the concept of the Khelo India Games, Asmita maintained that her performances started improving significantly after competing in various editions. The silver medal win in the recently held Kuwait City Asian Open 2023, her first senior international tournament, verifies her claims.

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“It is a fantastic platform. Since I started participating in these events, my performance has improved significantly. It is a platform where athletes get good exposure amidst world-class facilities,” said Asmita, who considers Indian judoka Avtar Singh as her inspiration.

“I am also a fan of Japanese judo star Uta Abe, and I closely follow her game,” added the Tripura girl before heading off for her training.

Also Read | Khelo India Games: 7 Assam athletes to represent univ of other states

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