Athlete. Model. LeadHer
In this edition of Leadhers Showcase, we are so so proud to present an International level athlete to represent India at Asian Grand Prix twice, Asian Star meet, SAARC games and SAF GAMES. A national level medal holder who is known for her brilliant performance on track. A woman with a "never give up" attitude and whose roller coaster journey is only going to leave you with a feeling of high.
Meet and get to know International athlete, Golden Girl of Mangalore, Heptathlon, 100m hurdles , 4X100m, 4X400m relay race and discuss throw champion: Shreema Priyadarshini
Shreema is winner of many many accolades and medals, some of her distinguished honours are:
Kannada Rajyothsava award
Republic Day award
Independence Day award
Kreeda Bharathi Award
Winner of Rani Abbakka Award in March 2020- a prestigious award given to distinguished women
Having a dream
Did you face any major setbacks?
My journey into sports started in the year 2000. My mom was a national athlete and it was her dream to see me as an athlete at international level, which pushed me into the track. I was rejected as an athlete in class 7. When I developed interest towards 100mts hurdles in the year 1998, my teacher told me I cannot win medal even at cluster level competitions and kept me back in school on the event day. This hurt me deeply and I stopped training. Later at high school, my mom met my coach and requested him to take me under his guidance. But my heart was not into it.
On my 13th birthday, I did not go to the stadium to train as I thought my Mom will not say anything and would agree to let me be at home and eventually see that I did not want to get into sports. But when she came home after work, she dragged me to the main door and told me go practice at the stadium and come back home after finishing my coaching. From that day on I did not look back .. my 13th birthday was the day when my actual journey into sports started.
I trained day and night just to win one national medal. First year I did a taluk (district)level record in discuss throw. For the next 3 years I represented my state but did not win any medal at any national event. I came back without winning a single medal at six national events. Although I gave up at that point my coach persisted and never gave up on me. With every defeat, he encouraged me more. Eventually, I started putting in more efforts from 5 hours of training to 7 hours of intense training. Finally, in 2004, I won my 1st medal in nationals and to my surprise it was a gold medal in the same event my teacher told me I'm not good at. So yes, my 1st National medal was gold in 100mts hurdles and National gold in discuss throw and a Silver medal in the same Nationals in heptathlon.
My coach had a dream to make me a heptathlete because till date there was no heptathlete from Mangalore. So, I transitioned into heptathlon and started breaking records in state competition. This is how, I had made my record in discuss throw, heptathlon.
My proud moment came when I created history in Mangalore University competition winning 6 gold medal in 100mts, heptathlon, discuss throw, 100mts hurdles, 4*100 mts relay, 4*400mts relay. Other than the relay, I created a new meet record in four events, which no girl had created in a single competition. From 2004 to 2011 I won continuous medals at nationals. I have a total of 18 national medals with me. As well as record in 100mts hurdles state dasara is also in my name created in the year 2008
On overcoming adversity...
Did you face any setbacks?
Yes, many. I got married in the year 2009 and I took only 2 days break for my marriage. When I got back to the stadium, people criticised me for wearing shorts (as I was married). My reaction would be just a smile. Internally, it made me tougher and more determined to prove them wrong by winning national medal even after my marriage.
In the year 2011 October I did my last state competition where I won 3 gold medal and also I presented the best athlete title. After I got back from this competition I went for my check up and that's when I got to know I was 2 months pregnant
I had a premature son born in 2012. So I took a two year break to take care of my son. I came back to my training in 2013 after I had gained a body weight of 26 kilos.
I faced a lot of criticism during that time. It was during that time Mrs PT Usha came to Mangalore and offered to help me. She is my mentor and also my senior officer in the railways. She recruited me to Indian Railways in 2007, after seeing my performance at All India Inter University athletic meet.
Usha Ma'am's work outs were really tough. Her supervision made me tougher mentally. I set a vision and a goal to prove myself as an athlete even after being a mother. I wanted women around me to know that we (women) are not done after marriage and kids. We still have a life and we still have dreams. We have goals that we want to achieve and we can still achieve them. Age and body is not a barrier.
I was back at track and field in 2014, with better shape, better body, better speed, better strength mentally and physically.
I won 3 gold medals in the Divisional Railway Meet. Continued my sport till 2017 and I had to stop due to severe back injury. I had a slip disc and doctors advised me to stop sports.
I went under deep depression in the year 2018 because everything was falling apart in my life. I did not know a life outside sports. I started hating myself, everything came like a volcano in my life I started smoking, drinking heavily and all I wanted to was to end my life. Sadly a strong will powered girl like me attempted to commit suicide during the lowest phase of my life. Luckily, I was saved by God's grace and I took medical help for recovery and also to end my bad habits.
How did you bounce back?
In the year 2019 I did my 1st pageant at Mrs Mangalore. I had to unlearn and learn a lot of new things for my second career at the ramp. I had put in a lot of hard work for my second career into modelling but I won my First pageant Mrs Mangalore title
This year I competed in Mrs KARNATAKA and won the 1st runner up title. I also got selected for Mrs South India which will be held this June. I took this decision of shifting from sports to modelling as I had earned a lot of good name in the field of sports for which people call me the "Golden Girl of Mangalore".
What pulled me out of my lowest days of depression was a vision of me standing strong no matter how much others try to put me down. A woman is always stronger the more she gets hit on her back.
Schools and colleges started inviting me as guest to encourage their students to share my personal experience. I do it to give back to the society. I am so determined to continue my journey, but I am taking one step at a time.