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Home News Farmer’s daughter defies odds, debuts at Chengdu FISU World University Games

Farmer’s daughter defies odds, debuts at Chengdu FISU World University Games

Shooting Sport 2 August 2023

Nidhi Pawaiya’s life has been nothing but a story filled with comebacks after struggles.

She started competing in shot put in 2019, at the age of 21, but soon after fell prey to COVID-19. Later in 2021 she had to undergo surgeries and rehabilitation after suffering a major ACL tear.

“I started shot put quite late in 2019, after which I couldn’t train for two years due to the COVID-19 rules and regulations, but things got worse when I suffered an ACL tear at the end of 2021. 2022 was a rehabilitation year for me,” said the 26-year-old.

The Barkatullah University student comes from a humble background with her parents being farmers in India. She was with her previous coach until 2019, then on her own until 2022. Now her new coach, Sandeep Singh, has changed her life for good, in merely a year of training.

After recovering from the injury, Nidhi bounced back in style. While no one had medal expectations for her, she won three straight events to qualify for the Chengdu FISU World University Games.

“Got three gold medals in back-to-back-to-back events. A zonal meet, Khelo India University Games, and All India University Games after the injury, which is why I got selected.”

However, the result at her first international event here in China was less glorious as she failed to qualify for the final with a best attempt of 13.40m, falling 22 cm short of qualifying.

The main reason for her disappointing performance was an unfortunate swollen ankle. “The day before my event, my right ankle, which I use for momentum during the throw, had gotten swollen. I couldn’t move properly to throw.

“I was able to throw while standing, which I did according to my usual standards, but I couldn’t give my 100 per cent.”

This situation has been a constant occurrence for Nidhi, whose body’s recovery time is slow.

“Even on the flight to China, I encountered a similar problem after I travelled for 14 hours. I trained after that for two days, I rested before my event, but I’m clueless as to why my ankle got swollen. I’m a bit disturbed due to my performance.”

Sandeep, her coach, is equally perplexed.

“She couldn’t perform as well as she normally does. When she sent me training videos, her ankles were fine,” he said.

Standing six-foot-two makes Nidhi stand out. She previously played basketball in 2016 but switched to athletics in 2019 due to her disinterest in the former.

“I was a basketball player previously. Since it was a team game, I wasn’t too into it and found myself lost. So, I decided to change into athletics and specifically shot put.

“I liked shot put, it matched my personality and appearance. It was a powerful game, and I wanted to become powerful.”

Her coach agrees and hopes she can come back from this performance and improve her personal best of 14.80m.

“In shot put, you need the height. Her height is rare in India. If she uses her height to her benefit and improves in future, there will be more competitions to come.”

Written by Netra. V, FISU Young Reporter