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Mother's girl Pavana, Asian U20 long-jump gold medallist, focused on heptathlon

Pavana won the long jump gold in the Asian U20 Athletics Championships Dubai, but her athlete mother Sahana ensured she remained focused on heptathlon.

Mothers girl Pavana, Asian U20 long-jump gold medallist, focused on heptathlon

Pavana Nagaraj with her mother Sahana Kumari after winning the gold medal at the Asian U20 Athletics Championships in Dubai last month. (Photo credit: Sports Authority of India)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 4 May 2024 10:33 AM GMT

Pavana Nagaraj has had a guide since when she took up athletics. She inherited the discipline from her parents and now is in the process of making it big.

She has recently clinched the gold medal in the women's long jump competition at the Asian U20 Athletics Championships in Dubai with a personal best effort of 6.32m.

Now at the formative phase of her career, the 18-year-old does not need to crave help for her next career steps as her mother, Sahana Kumari, and father BG Nagaraj, have always been there to guide her.

Sahana, the 2012 Olympian, herself was a women’s national high jump record holder, while Pavana's father Nagaraj is an Inter-State men’s 100m champion. Nagaraj was also crowned the fastest man in India back then for recording a time of 10.50 seconds at the 2010 Asian Games trials.

Focus on all-round development

It was at Sahana's advice that Pavana switched to the long jump from the high jump.

Sahana, who is now a Sports Authority of India (SAI) coach, has been steadily guiding her daughter to become a heptathlete, as she insisted that Pavana, at this young age, should compete in multiple events, an idea that aligned with Athletics Federation of India's (AFI) newly formulated policy. And that came in handy for Pavana to adapt to the long jump.

"We want her to be in multiple events so that her overall development is taken care of. This is what this generation is lacking. They are focusing on just one discipline,” Sahana was quoted as saying by SAI Media.

“I told her rather than sticking to one event, she should try the heptathlon to discover her strength. We want her to excel in multi events and she has to understand which event she is good at. As parents, or as coaches, we are not forcing her to take up any particular discipline. We are only supporting her so she can enjoy her journey,” Sahana stated.

Pavana, supported by the Khelo India Scholarship scheme since 2018, also acknowledged how her stay at the SAI Centre in Bengaluru proved a boon.

“It is my second home. I used to visit the SAI track in Bengaluru since my childhood when my mother was training there. I joined the centre in 2017. My roots are in SAI Bengaluru,” she emphasised.

Mother-daughter bonding

Talking about her mother's role in her career, the youngster said, “She always accompanies me to competitions, and always backs me. Her support and presence have brought me this far. I do not think most athletes get to feel this, and I am really blessed. I will always be grateful to both my parents for putting me on the right path on the field and off the field."

Sahana said, “As a mother, I am really happy to have a daughter like Pavana. Seeing your child succeed and realise her dream gives parents a lot of happiness. We want her to excel in the senior competitions as well. And we keep telling her to focus on the senior events, especially the Olympics as the bigger target."

“The main thing is to focus and be dedicated to what you want. The mindset that we give to her sometimes, maybe, irritates her, but later she understands, what my parents say are actually good for me,” she added.

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