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From stringing flowers to being garlanded: Indian kabaddi star Usha Rani makes family proud

Author: Ashwini M Sripad
Publication: The New Indian Express
Date:  August 26, 2018
URL:      http://www.newindianexpress.com/sport/asian-games/news/2018/aug/26/from-stringing-flowers-to-being-garlanded-indian-kabaddi-star-usha-rani-makes-family-proud-
1862889.amp?__twitter_impression=true

Puttamma and her three daughters sit for more than six hours in their tiny shed-house at Yeshwantpur stringing flowers, earning just Rs 50 per day. Their conversation would revolve around kabaddi. But never in her dreams did Puttamma think that one of her daughters would bring glory to the country and the state. This week, her daughter Usha Rani (30), made them proud:  She was part of the team that won the silver medal in women’s Kabaddi at the Asian Games in Jakarta on Friday.

On her arrival in Delhi on Saturday night, Usha Rani said, “There was a time when only cricket was seen as a national game. Now things have changed. I am glad there is equal attention for all the games including kabaddi. Hard work will take us to great heights. I am thankful to my department and proud to be part of Karnataka police (she is a constable with Doddaballapur police station).”

The second daughter of Puttamma and Narasimhiah, Usha always wanted to play kabaddi.  “I never dreamt of making my daughters kabaddi champions. All I know is stringing flowers. We would get 5 kg of jasmine every day from big vendors. After my daughters came home from school, we would string the flowers. We would get Rs 10 per kg of flowers. Be it while stringing the flowers or while having dinner or lunch, kabaddi was the only topic our daughters would discuss,’’ she said.

Bhaskar Rao, Additional Director General of Police, Karnataka State Reserve Police, said it was a proud moment for Karnataka and Karnataka Police. “I will go to the airport on Sunday to receive Usha Rani. We are going to felicitate her,’’ he said. Usha, according to sources, could also be considered for a promotion as sub-inspector.

Puttmma and Narasimhiah’s children --Shobha Rani, Usha Rani, Naveen, Divyashree and Prakash -- all play kabaddi. It was Usha who made the first foray into the game. “When Usha was in high school, she wanted to go to Vidyapeetha for the sub-junior selections. All she asked was for ` 10 for the bus fare from Yeshwantpur. I did not have even this meagre amount.  So I borrowed and gave it to her. She got selected. And there was no looking back for her since then. She has been playing kabaddi at the state, national and international levels. Asian Games was her first outside India match and she won silver,’’ Puttamma beamed.

Before going to participate in the event, Usha called her mother and told her that she would bring home a medal.

The couple never discouraged their children, especially the daughters, from playing kabaddi. “We never felt that only boys should play the game. We would tell people to encourage their daughters and that they would bring name and fame. After my daughters started winning medals, parents from our locality started encouraging their daughters to play kabaddi,’’ Puttamma said. She is thankful to Shree Matha Kabaddi Sports Club for Women where all her daughters learnt the game.

Divyashree, Usha’s younger sister, too participated in kabaddi at the state and national levels. She is now selected as a forest guard under the sports quota and is expected to join in September. Speaking about her sister, Divya said Usha was 18 years old when she got selected as police constable. “She completed her degree through a correspondence course. I am so proud of her, she is the only one to be selected from entire South India in the kabaddi team,’’ she said. Asked her about her sister’s fitness diet, quick comes the response:  “Amma would make Raagi mudde and chapathi. During matches, Usha would be at the grounds from 6 am to 11 .30 pm.”
 
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