Being Called ‘Lady Dhoni’ Fills Me With Great Pride, Says CWG Gold Medalist Indian Lawn Bowler

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Being Called ‘Lady Dhoni’ Fills Me With Great Pride, Says CWG Gold Medalist Indian Lawn Bowler

Being Called ‘Lady Dhoni’ Fills Me With Great Pride, Says CWG Gold Medalist Indian Lawn Bowler

Rupa Rani Tirkey is a member of the Indian women’s lawn bowl team. She and her three teammates namely, Pinki, Nayanmoni Saikia, and Lovely Choubey made history… 07.09.2022, Sputnik International

2022-09-07T12:28+0000

2022-09-07T12:28+0000

2022-09-07T12:28+0000

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Rupa Rani Tirkey and her three colleagues are still basking in the glory of their historic gold medal victory in the women’s fours event in lawn bowls at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. But Rupa Rani, the senior player among the four players is particularly enjoying the epithet of “Lady Dhoni of India” given to her by the press and her childhood coach dela. In an interview to Sputnik, Rupa Rani Tirkey spoke about her dream of winning a CWG gold medal, her journey as a lawn bowler, her next goal of clinching a medal at the World Championships, and whether the sport could become as popular as badminton and hockey in India.Sputnik: Did you expect to win a gold medal in Birmingham?Rupa Rani: When we arrived in Britain, we were not expecting to clinch a gold medal. But we wanted to be on the podium regardless of the medal’s color. We always knew that to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, we needed to defeat the top-5 teams in the lawn bowl which are Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, and Scotland. We were quite sure that we would be facing these sides in the quarters, semis, and finals. We were certain that if we managed to beat these teams we will end up claiming a medal but a gold medal was beyond our expectations. Fortunately, we defeated New Zealand in the semifinals and then South Africa in the title clash.Sputnik: You broke down in tears during the interview after the CWG win. Were those tears of relief or joy? Rupa Rani: The feeling after we won the Commonwealth Games gold was surreal and I cannot express it fully again. But my journey as a lawn bowler from 2007 to 2022 has been extremely long, especially when nobody knew this sport in India. It gives me goosebumps even to think that I have been playing lawn bowls for 15 years particularly when we had no support whatsoever except the Bowling Federation of India (BFI). Our sport had no sponsors at all and though BFI was supporting us in every possible way, the federation’s support is just not enough. Despite that, I and my team appeared in three previous editions of the Commonwealth Games without much success. However, I always wanted to do something big in lawn bowls. Like players in badminton, hockey, wrestling, etc, I wanted to be recognized by my name and that’s why I continued to work hard to achieve my goal. In simple words, I would say that I attempted the same exam four times – while I failed thrice in a row in 2010, 2014, and 2018, I finally passed it with flying colors in 2022. That’s why those tears were of relief and joy at the same time.Sputnik: What’s your next target after winning the CWG gold medal? Rupa Rani: Winning the CWG gold medal is my career’s biggest achievement so far. However, I don’t want to stop here. In fact, I improving alongside my teammates want to continue our game, so that we can lift next year’s World Bowls Championship in Gold Coast, Australia.Sputnik: How it feels to be called the Lady MS Dhoni of India?Rupa Rani: My childhood coach, Madhukant Pathak, under whom I began my training as a lawn bowler in 2007, used to call me Lady Dhoni at the time because my hairstyle was reminiscent of MS Dhoni’s hairstyle during that period. Pathak Sir used to tell me that “Dhoni has achieved so much in cricket, why can’t you achieve similar success in lawn bowls”? I used to think then that I also have similar traits to Dhoni and when I won the gold medal in Birmingham it struck me that people of the country will now recognize me like Dhoni because I always wanted people to recognize me and now when people compare me with him, it fills me with great pride.Sputnik: Do you think your team’s triumph in CWG will kickstart an era where Indians will look to take up lawn bowls as a career? Rupa Rani: I am sure our gold medal-winning effort at the Commonwealth Games will surely change the attitude of Indians towards the lawn bowl. Earlier people were not at all aware that this sport even existed somewhere, but now after seeing us win at a mega event, they would want to send their daughters and sons to academies where one can practice lawn bowling.At the CWG, 8 gold medals are on offer in the lawn bowl – four each in the men’s and women’s versions and we only won one. So the possibilities of growth in the sport are high. I have already started receiving messages from the southern states, from Maharashtra, from Madhya Pradesh, and with no age bar to compete in the lawn bowl, people are really interested in taking this up as a career. It could be a Saina Nehwal moment for us in the lawn ball. If you remember when Saina won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, badminton suddenly picked up in the country and now we have so many world-class shuttlers. I can sense a similar trajectory for lawn ball in India in the next few years.

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Rupa Rani Tirkey is a member of the Indian women’s lawn bowl team. She and her dela three teammates namely, Pinki, Nayanmoni Saikia, and Lovely Choubey made history last month, winning the country’s first-ever gold medal in a multi-disciplinary event in the sport at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Rupa Rani Tirkey and her three colleagues are still basking in the glory of their historic gold medal victory in the women’s fours event in lawn bowls at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. But Rupa Rani, the senior player among the four players is particularly enjoying the epithet of “Lady Dhoni of India” given to her by the press and her childhood coach dela.

In an interview to Sputnik, Rupa Rani Tirkey spoke about her dream of winning a CWG gold medal, her journey as a lawn bowler, her next goal of clinching a medal at the World Championships, and whether the sport could become as popular as badminton and hockey in India.

Sputnik: Did you expect to win a gold medal in Birmingham?

Rupa Rani: When we arrived in Britain, we were not expecting to clinch a gold medal. But we wanted to be on the podium regardless of the medal’s color.

We always knew that to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, we needed to defeat the top-5 teams in the lawn bowl which are Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, and Scotland. We were quite sure that we would be facing these sides in the quarters, semis, and finals.

We were certain that if we managed to beat these teams we will end up claiming a medal but a gold medal was beyond our expectations. Fortunately, we defeated New Zealand in the semifinals and then South Africa in the title clash.

Sputnik: You broke down in tears during the interview after the CWG win. Were those tears of relief or joy?

Rupa Rani: The feeling after we won the Commonwealth Games gold was surreal and I cannot express it fully again. But my journey as a lawn bowler from 2007 to 2022 has been extremely long, especially when nobody knew this sport in India. It gives me goosebumps even to think that I have been playing lawn bowls for 15 years particularly when we had no support whatsoever except the Bowling Federation of India (BFI).

Our sport had no sponsors at all and though BFI was supporting us in every possible way, the federation’s support is just not enough. Despite that, I and my team appeared in three previous editions of the Commonwealth Games without much success.

However, I always wanted to do something big in lawn bowls. Like players in badminton, hockey, wrestling, etc, I wanted to be recognized by my name and that’s why I continued to work hard to achieve my goal.

In simple words, I would say that I attempted the same exam four times – while I failed thrice in a row in 2010, 2014, and 2018, I finally passed it with flying colors in 2022. That’s why those tears were of relief and joy at the same time.

Sputnik: What’s your next target after winning the CWG gold medal?

Rupa Rani: Winning the CWG gold medal is my career’s biggest achievement so far. However, I don’t want to stop here. In fact, I improving alongside my teammates want to continue our game, so that we can lift next year’s World Bowls Championship in Gold Coast, Australia.

Sputnik: How it feels to be called the Lady MS Dhoni of India?

Rupa Rani: My childhood coach, Madhukant Pathak, under whom I began my training as a lawn bowler in 2007, used to call me Lady Dhoni at the time because my hairstyle was reminiscent of MS Dhoni’s hairstyle during that period.

Pathak Sir used to tell me that “Dhoni has achieved so much in cricket, why can’t you achieve similar success in lawn bowls”? I used to think then that I also have similar traits to Dhoni and when I won the gold medal in Birmingham it struck me that people of the country will now recognize me like Dhoni because I always wanted people to recognize me and now when people compare me with him, it fills me with great pride.

Sputnik: Do you think your team’s triumph in CWG will kickstart an era where Indians will look to take up lawn bowls as a career?

Rupa Rani: I am sure our gold medal-winning effort at the Commonwealth Games will surely change the attitude of Indians towards the lawn bowl. Earlier people were not at all aware that this sport even existed somewhere, but now after seeing us win at a mega event, they would want to send their daughters and sons to academies where one can practice lawn bowling.

At the CWG, 8 gold medals are on offer in the lawn bowl – four each in the men’s and women’s versions and we only won one. So the possibilities of growth in the sport are high.

I have already started receiving messages from the southern states, from Maharashtra, from Madhya Pradesh, and with no age bar to compete in the lawn bowl, people are really interested in taking this up as a career.

It could be a Saina Nehwal moment for us in the lawn ball. If you remember when Saina won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, badminton suddenly picked up in the country and now we have so many world-class shuttlers. I can sense a similar trajectory for lawn ball in India in the next few years.

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