The 24-year-old Judoka won the Gold Medal in -81kg weight category for Lovely Professional University, Punjab
24-year-old Judoka Deepak Mishra came into the Khelo India University Games 2021 in a rich vein of form, having bagged the Gold Medal in the All India Inter University Men’s Judo Championship in Kanpur in March 2022. The two-time National Judo Championships Gold Medallist showed no signs of slowing down here in Bengaluru as he stormed through the rest of the field in the Men’s -81kg category, defeating KIUG 2020 Gold Medallist Samir Khan Pathan of Gujarat University in the process.
Looking back on his 12-year-long journey since he first took up the Japanese martial art in his village in the Chhatarpur district in Madhya Pradesh, Deepak said, “This sport has given me a lot, and taken a lot from me too. When I put on my Judogi (Japanese name for the traditional Judo uniform) and step out on the mat and perform well, it makes me feel good about myself – like I am a master in my domain. On the other hand, it has often been a lonely journey with support from only a few seniors and well-wishers. And of course, injuries and other obstacles have also been there.”
“I started practicing Judo since the age of 12. After learning the basics in my village in Madhya Pradesh, I got selected via trials in SAI Ludhiana. I started doing well there and winning medals at the State level. However, to make further progress, I needed a proper scholarship programme to afford training. My family comes from a humble background, and my father is just a driver in MP. They always encouraged me to play sports, but my needs required financial means. It was only until I reached Lovely Professional University this year that I have started receiving a regular scholarship of ₹10,000 per month, which helps me to train now,” he elaborated.
Deepak thanked his senior Judoka from SAI Ludhiana Nitin Sharma, who later became his Coach. Sharma encouraged Deepak to enrol himself in Lovely Professional University – where he is a trainer – and take his craft forward.
Speaking about the support from his Coach, Deepak said, “He has been a mentor to me ever since I began pursuing Judo seriously. Like him, I too want to give back to Judo by training the next generation of athletes if I ever have that chance.”
Deepak – whose passion for Judo is symbolised by a tattoo of the Japanese inscription of “Judo” on the back of his neck – signed off by saying, “I wasn’t able to participate in the Khelo India University Games last time around because of personal reasons, but now that I’m here and have performed well, the Khelo India Scheme scholarship of ₹1 lakh for the Gold Medal will go a long way in helping me out to keep going further.”