Indian Judoka Shushila Devi has made India proud after she won silver in the women’s 48kg judo category at Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022. But this isn’t the first time Sushila earned a medal, she also won CWG silver, after the first one at Glasgow in 2014. The 27 years old Sushila Devi, first beat Harriet Bonface of Malawi via ippon, and then Priscilla Morand of Mauritius bagged an Ippon and finally secured a victory. Since her dramatic win, Devi has received tremendous love and appreciation from the country including PM Narendra Modi, Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu, and President Draupadi Murmu.
According to India’s chief judo coach Jiwan Kumar, Sushila played all the while having stitches on her knees after she injured herself at the camp in Delhi and couldn’t go on the exposure tour. But Sushila’s win isn’t one simple one, as she had her fair share of obstacles. This is her story.
From a farm girl to securing silver at Commonwealth Games 2022, Sushila is a player of immense talent.
Sushila Devi Likmabam hails from Heingang, East Imphal, Manipur. Born in 1995, Devi has a family history of Judo. Her uncle, Dinit Singh, was an international judo player and her brother Shilakshi Singh was a national gold medallist in the sport. So, it isn’t a surprise that Sushila is abundant in talent. She started playing Judo at the age of just six, and as her uncle was a judo player, most of her initial training was at home. When she turned seven, she joined the judo academy at Khuman Lampak. Sushila and her siblings would wake up every day early in the morning and then walk to their academy.
Playing for the country at the international level was never on her wish list, however, things changed when she was training at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) center in Imphal where she was selected to train at the National Centre of Excellence in Patiala. She always idolized Mary Kom and other sportsmen from various disciplines and watch their practice sessions. She would practice hard every day but that wasn’t enough to support young Devi’s dream.
Regardless of her talent, her weak financial condition had always troubled her. She belongs to a family of farmers and owns a very small land where they could only grow enough vegetables for themselves. A very small portion of that produce went to the markets and thus the family has inconsistent income. At one point, Sushila had to sell her car to finance her training.
In 2018, Devi had another setback when she suffered a hamstring injury just before the Asian Games trial. It was important for athletes to first compete at Asian Games and only then they’ll be shortlisted for Commonwealth Games. She had to take three months off and went back to her home. But Devi’s determination never wavered, she came back a few months later and started off with her training.
The government had not cleared much of her travel and thus Devi took a loan and financed her trip to Japan and Budapest all by herself. In Budapest, she couldn’t compete due to being 500 gm underweight. She then went to Osaka in November 2019, but her name was not announced and therefore she couldn’t compete here as well. But with her coach’s support, she trained harder and won a silver at the Hong Kong Asia Open in 2018 & 2019 after losing to Kimberley Renicks in the gold medal match. On Monday, Sushila Devi won a silver in the women’s 48kg judo category at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.