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Bhopal: City judoka becomes nation's first visually impaired martial arts coach

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Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Bhopal’s Poonam Sharma created history by becoming the country’s first visually impaired martial arts coach at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), National Centre of Excellence, Goa. Para-judoka Poonam has also been selected to receive the state’s Vikram award for her excellent performance in the field of sports.

Judoka Poonam’s coach, Pravin Bhateley, informed Free Press that Poonam is the first visually impaired judoka in the country to train athletes in martial arts, and soon she will apply for her name to be in the Limca Book of Records.

While talking to Free Press, judoka Poonam said, ‘I am really happy and excited to get the Vikram award because after this award, I’ll be eligible to get a state government job. Currently, I am working as coach at SAI, but I really want to work in my state.’

Sharing her experience as a para-athlete in the country, Poonam said, ‘I feel grateful that I have a very supportive family and my coaches helped me achieve everything that I have today. I will not say that the government supported me or not because I am a kind of person who can adjust to any kind of situation.’

‘Only thing the government offers to para- athletes is praise’

While talking to Free Press, Poonam Sharma’s coach, Pravin Bhateley said, ‘We went to the stadium many times when our athletes returned after representing the country in the world championship. We asked for the sanctioned reward money, but till now we have not received anything. The state government surely appreciates the medals and praises the para-athletes through their Twitter account, but when it comes to financial support, they step back.’

Earlier, Poonam Sharma had won and participated in several national and international tournaments, including the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo Asian and Oceania Championships, where she won a bronze medal in below 63kg category.

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