Nikki Pradhan overcomes hurdles to become Jharkhand's first woman hockey Olympian
Nikki Pradhan was not picked for the country's junior national hockey camp in 2011-2012 and didn't know what the future held for her. Now, sheer dedication and hard work have seen this tribal girl make the cut in the Indian women's hockey team for the Rio Olympics.
Nikki started to play hockey in her village before joining a coaching camp in Ranchi in 2005. She made her debut for the senior Indian team in 2015.
The region that is now Jharkhand boasts of five Olympians -- Jaipal Singh Munda (Amsterdam 1928), Michael Kindo (Munich 1972), Silvanus Dungdung (Moscow 1980), Manohar Toppno (Los Angeles 1984) and Ajit Lakra (Barcelona 1992). However, Nikki is the first woman hockey player from the state on the world's biggest sporting stage.
Chief Minister Raghubar Das has congratulated Nikki on her selection in the Olympic squad, saying it was a matter of pride for all of Jharkhand.
Sate Sports Minister Amar Bauri said that her achievement would be an encouragement to other sportspersons from the state. Hockey Jharkhand chief Bholanath Singh said that after a long time the state is once again in the news for its achievements in hockey.
"The matter was of great pride and Hockey Jharkhand was committed to do its good work," Bholanath said.
Former national selector and international woman hockey player Savitri Purti too greeted Nikki.
However, her childhood coach Dasrath Mahto said that Nikki was earlier sacred of playing the sport as due to her lean figure she used to think that the stick would one day break her legs. However, he kept on encouraging her after which she decided to pick up the stick.
Nikki belongs to a small village named Hesel in Murhu block of Khunti district. Unfortunately, the people of her village were unaware about her achievements until the media started airing the news. Her father Soma Pradhan is with the Bihar Police while her mother Jitni Devi is a housewife.
What is surprising that while the state government makes tall claims of taking care of sportspersons, this Olympian lives in a thatched mud house in which the toilet and the bathroom does not even have a proper door.