Sushila Devi Likmabam is the only Indian judoka to have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. The Manipuri resident will compete in the 48 kg category. However, her journey to the Olympics has not been easy. She secured her place in the Olympics by virtue of the continental quota. Here's more on that and the journey of India's top judo star.
Sushila Devi Likmabam's early life
Sushila Devi Likmabam grew up in Imphal, as the second among four children. As a child, she excelled in local tournaments. Her uncle Dinit Likmabam was an international judo player. Dinit took Sushila Devi to train at the Khuman Lampak stadium in 2002. She later began training under Sabitri Chanu at the Sports Authority of India.
Sushila Devi Likmabam's rise to the top
In 2010, Sushila Devi Likmabam shifted her training camp to Patiala. She then trained under top Indian coaches Jiwan Sharma, Deben Singh and Sabitri Devi. Her first big win was in 2008, when she became the junior National champion. She added to the jubilation by bagging bronze at the Asian Youth Championship.
Sushila Devi Likmabam's peak moment came in 2014 when she clinched a bronze in the 48 kg category at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The win set the tone for a promising career.
Sushila Devi Likmabam's injury
Sushila Devi Likmabam failed to make the cut to Rio. Later, a horrific hamstring tear put an end to her Asian Games hopes.
Speaking about her injury in 2018, Sushila Devi told India Today:
"Due to a hamstring tear, I lost in the Asian Games trials. I was devastated and thought that my career was over."
Sushila Devi Likmabam's form ahead of the Tokyo Olympics
The judo team missed several tournaments ahead of the World Championships due to Covid-19. With her training in disarray, Sushila Devi was knocked out of the World Championships in the first round. However, she qualified for the Olympics through the continental quota. In Tokyo, she will be one of the Indians to keep a close eye on. Toughened by her fight with injuries and adverse conditions, she will hope to make it all count with a podium finish in Tokyo.