A Gold for Puja Kadian: An International Champion in Wushu
‘Impossible is Nothing’
Puja Kadian is a fine example of human will and toil. For those who have not heard of her, she is our very own Wushu player who won gold for India at the Wushu World Championship in 2017. But what is Wushu? This story of Wushu begins with Puja’s encounter with the martial arts form at a State level sports meet in Haryana almost 15 years ago. Puja was a Taekwondo player. After witnessing a game of Wushu at that meet, she decided she wanted to make the game her own. Clueless, without any guidance and support, she nevertheless began training on her own to one day learn the martial arts form.
For two years, Puja trained to get ready to learn Wushu all on her own. She ran, exercised to keep herself physically fit and took care of her diet. She did not know when and how she was going to start learning the game. But she prepared for the day nevertheless, which finally arrived when she heard of a camp being organised near her hometown for beginners.
Days of Struggle
Puja left home without hesitation. Ever since her mother had passed away, her father had been protective of her. Despite his concern and reluctance to let her play the game, Puja was convinced this was what she wanted to do with her life. She went to Delhi to her grandmother to find emotional support. And she did not look back from then on.
Winning a bronze at the 5th Asian Junior Wushu championship at Macau in 2008 was the first time that Puja felt she was good enough to push further. She practiced for about 6-7 hours everyday and eyed the next international championships for a win. She had a clear agenda in mind for her game. Setting goals to get back the medals home became the source of her focus and determination.
While the gold still eluded her, a setback offered her the chance to work doubly hard to prove the detractors wrong. A knee injury and surgery in 2015 had everyone telling her that she might not be able to play as well anymore. This was all that Puja needed to set her target once again to give the best to her game. A gold, the country’s first ever in the Wushu World Championship last year, won her the respect that she had been looking for.
Of Dreams and Goals
Needless to say, Puja is her own role model. There are a few who have heard about Wushu in India. There are even fewer who would think of making it a career in this country. And a woman sticking stubbornly to her ambition despite opposition from family and the community is a rarity. She humbly admits that she had no idols because she barely had access to information about sports. But she is practical enough to realize that given her circumstances and her choice of game, she is quite a trailblazer herself.
Today, people around her are proud of her. But she has not forgotten how her coaches, her grandmother and her friend Parul, were the only support system she had when she was just a hard working, determined teenager. So she still sets her goals and pushes further. She dreams of winning at the Asian Games this year and one day, become Arjuna Award winner. She backs her dream with a run in the field and almost 8 hours of daily practice. This is the reality that has finally convinced those around her that dreams can come true, so long as you have a Puja in you.
The Final Lap
The Wushu player has just one advice to give to young girls who want to achieve their goals. She meets plenty of girls everyday who tell her they want to be like her. “Learn from me that there are no short cuts to success. You have to leave everything and work towards your goals. There is no substitute to hard work. Its the only thing that can make you realise your dreams”.
With that, Puja signs off as she has to go back to the field to train. No wonder little girls look up to this tough woman who has achieved a feat all on her own. She leads by pure example. And she is going strong, for she still has stars in her eyes.