Meet wrestler Neetu Sarkar: Married off at 13, mother to twins, now National Games medalist
She has also won silver and bronze medals in the previous two editions of the National Games.
Legendary boxer MC Mary Kom has been a great source of inspiration for a generation of athletes, especially women, in various sports. One such athlete inspired by Mary Kom is wrestler Neetu Sarkar, who overcame societal and financial challenges to achieve success in the National Games 2023, even after becoming a mother of twins at the age of 14.
Neetu’s remarkable journey serves as an inspiration to many aspiring athletes. Her recent silver medal win in the women’s 57kg weight division at the ongoing National Games 2023 in Goa is a testament to her hard work and dedication to the sport. Neetu is currently employed with the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
Hailing from a financially struggling family in Bhiwani, Neetu faced extreme difficulties during her teenage years. At the age of 13, she was forced into a marriage with a 43-year-old man who had mental health issues. However, she managed to escape and return to her parents.
Unfortunately, her parents arranged another marriage for her, and her second husband was unemployed and relied on his mother’s pension.
Financial struggles pushed Neetu to take on various odd jobs, including working as a beautician, a maid, a shop clerk, and even a self-taught tailor. Within a year, she gave birth to twin boys, increasing her responsibilities. The arrival of her twins temporarily hindered her sporting aspirations until a chance encounter with a yoga teacher changed her life.
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The yoga teacher introduced her to wrestling coach Ziley Singh, who used MC Mary Kom’s inspiring story to encourage Neetu to pursue her dreams in sports. Initially, her husband was unsupportive of her plans, deeming them crazy.
Neetu realized that life wouldn’t be easy, and she didn’t want her children to face hardships at such a young age. She persuaded her husband to support her, with the condition that she would complete her training before the rest of the family and village woke up.
Neetu began her serious wrestling journey at the age of 17 and became a national medalist in the senior category by the time she turned 19. At 21, she represented India at the Junior World Championships in Brazil and secured a bronze medal at the 2015 National Games held in Kerala.
She also won a silver medal in the 57kg category at the 36th edition of the Games in Gujarat last year and has earned medals in international tournaments.
Her sons are now based in Karnal and Rohtak, with one of them pursuing javelin. Neetu serves as a constable with the SSB and has her sights set on the upcoming trials for the Paris Olympics. Her incredible journey serves as a testament to the power of determination and resilience.