From stringing flowers to winning the silver medal at the 2018 Asiad Games, Karnataka’s Usha Rai has come a long way. Read on to find out more about her inspiring story.
Usha Rani is proof that perseverance has rich rewards. From stringing flowers to create garlands for others, she was garlanded herself for being part of the Indian women’s Kabaddi team that won a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games.
Usha Rani was born into a poor family with 3 brothers, Prakash and Naveen, and 2 sisters, Shobha Rani and Divyashree. To make ends meet, the girls and their mother, Puttamma, would string jasmine flowers together for over 6 hours a day.
They earned an average of Rs 50 per day by stringing 5kg of jasmine together. Though flowers paid for their meals, Kabaddi fed their souls. While Puttamma herself had been a shot-put player in school, her husband was a kabaddi player. This was the only topic the children would discuss.
Quick Facts About Usha Rani
- Usha is one of five siblings.
- With the mother being a shot-put player and father being a kabaddi player, sports was always encouraged.
- She was the youngest player in the Karnataka State Police Kabaddi team.
- The 2018 Asiad Games were Usha’s first chance to represent India abroad.
The Early Years
When Usha Rani was in high school, she tried out for the sub-junior selections at Vidyapeetha. The bus fee from Yeshwantpur to Vidyapeetha was Rs 10 which at that time was a princely amount for the family.
Puttamma recalls how a young Usha, then in high school wanted to go to the tryouts at Vidyapeetha for the sub-junior selections. She asked her mother for Rs 10 to take the bus from Yeshwantpur. This was a princely amount for the family at the time which Puttamma had to borrow. The decision paid off and there’s been no looking back for Usha Rani ever since.
Becoming Part of the Karnataka State Police Kabaddi Team
From playing Kabaddi at state and national levels, Usha Rani went on to become the youngest player in the Karnataka State Police Kabaddi team. She was the last person to be appointed to the Karnataka Police under the sports quota. As part of the team, Usha Rani was the expert in raiding opponents and giving leads.
The 2018 Asian Games was Usha Rani’s first chance at playing abroad.
The Next Chapter for the Family
Usha’s younger sister, Divyashree is set to follow in her sister’s footsteps. After participating in state and national level Kabaddi tournaments, Divyashree has now been selected as a forest guard through the sports quota. She is expected to join the team next month.
Along with commending Usha Rani’s efforts, it is also necessary to recognize that her story may not have been possible without her parent’s constant support. Speaking about her daughter’s accomplishments, Puttamma said, “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 began to encourage their daughters to play kabaddi…”