Forgotten Heroes Of Indian Contact Sports – Kalpana Devi


To celebrate the contributions of sportsmen/women, and to bring them to the attention of the sports lovers in the country, we have decided to look back at some of the best Indian individual talents from the field of combat sports.

Continuing our series of forgotten heroes of Indian contact sports (you can find the first article here), today we look at one of the most promising talents from the world of Judo.

When we think of Judokas, the first name that pops into our mind is the new hottest star in Hollywood, and the current UFC Bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey. While Ronda’s accolades have been celebrated in the United States for many years, Sports Rediscovered takes a look at a similar journey of a Judoka from India, Kalpana Devi Thoudam.

In 1998, a 9 year old Kalpana won the silver medal at the Sub – Junior National Championship, giving her and her family hope – a hope of creating her own niche in the country.

Kalpana Devi at Commonwealth Games 2014

Kalpana Devi won the bronze medal in the 52 kg division in Glasgow.

Kalpana would go on to prove those dreams true, as she won four gold medals at the Junior National Championships, and also managed to bag a gold medal at the Asian Junior Judo Championship. Her hard work and dedication took Kalpana Devi to greater heights and in 2010, she went on to win the gold medal at the Commonwealth Judo Championships in Singapore.

Her crowning achievement would come three years later, when Kalpana became the first woman from India to win a medal at the IJF Grand Prix, held in Uzbekistan, bagging the bronze medal. In 2014, Kalpana won yet another medal in the Commonwealth Games, winning the bronze medal in the 52kg weight class.

Her story is similar to yet another Judoka from Manipur, Likmabam Sushila Devi, who also has an impressive collection of medals and championships under her belt. We can only hope that India, much like cricket, chooses to embrace other sports and gives due recognition to sportsmen/women who have strived equally hard, to put the country on the sporting map.

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