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Aamir Khan’s blockbuster flick ‘Dangal’ portrayed an inspirational story where women graced the ‘Akhara’ in an unlikely remote village in Haryana. Babita Phogat and Geeta Phogat became household names, breaking the stereotype. But Muzaffarnagar’s Divya Kakran was the least everyone could have expected. The 20-year old girl with nerves of steel and loads of mettle has fled to Jakarta on a medal hunt for the tri-colour in the ongoing 2018 Asian Games. Much similar to the Phogat sisters, Divya was born in a wrestling family which was an automatic boost to get inclined to the sport. But her actual confrontation with wrestling began when she was taken to watch her brothers wrestle. Following that, she started wrestling with boys inside the ring and to the utter surprise of everyone; she left each of her opponents pinned down to the ground. In a country like ours, a girl wrestling with boys is not approved by the family members, and in her case, it was no exception. Kakran’s grandparents and her mother were a few of many who were against the thought that the girl should take up wrestling seriously. But her supportive father braved all odds to make sure Divya sticks to the ring. “A lot of people advised my father not to make me wrestle. They said if I injured myself, no one would be marrying me. But my father was resolute. He treated me like a daughter and gave me all the support which is given to a boy,” said Divya while speaking to The Sunday Guardian.
Financial constraint was a hurdle to cross from the beginning......the family encountered a situation where they could not afford milk for her. But prize money earned by winning regular tournaments by Divya helped the cause. And then there’s her brother Dev, who sacrificed his entire career so that Divya can make the nation proud as the family lacked enough resources to back two wrestling careers. Dev is currently her training partner. Regarding the contribution of her brother, Divya said, “He left his education, his wrestling career, and everything for me. I have sometimes to attend wrestling camps in Lucknow which last for two-three months. I get accommodation in hostels for the camp, but my brother stays in hotel rooms to accompany me.” The 2018 Asian Games was the next big stop for the wrestler, and she left no stones unturned in the preparations for the mega event. Leaving at 5.30 am in the morning each day, the practice goes on till 6.30 p.m. with a break in between. She recently won a Silver medal at the Junior Asian Wrestling Championships and will be eyeing no less than a podium finish at the Asian Games. Divya is afraid of wrestling with foreigners which she admits as well as her brother. So they have worked out on the matter before the Asiad. For her, the mega event in Jakarta is more about how to deal with pressure. She claims herself to be weak compared to other wrestlers at the Games and trying hard to get a grip of techniques. “I am a bit nervous for the Games, but then it is natural. Taking pressure doesn’t help one. I am just practising hard to overcome my fears, and I have also succeeded to a level in that.” And suceed she has. A bronze in the 2018 Commonwealth Games. And now a Bronze at the Asiad. The girl has come a long way from the Akhadas.