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Tulika Maan of India costs a fortune but brings the future in judo

Indian judoka Tulika Maan took a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. The same week she will try to win a medal at Asian Championships, while being injured. She lost 30 kgs over the last year and made quite some progression and will even try to start in the women’s U78kg category soon.

Always raised to be independent, her mother Amrita was the first woman of her family to get an education and hold a job – as a constable with the Delhi Police. Having joined the police force in 1991, Amrita’s work kept her away from home at odd hours. “I’ve mostly done field work. I was an investigations officer for 12 years at Rajouri Garden police station.” Amrita is currently posted at Tis Hazari court.

Left alone, Tulika would get extremely bored. “She was very lonely by herself, so, she would keep pestering me to give her a brother or sister. So, I thought I’d put her in a sport just to keep her from getting bored. I did not have any idea about judo, but there was a martial arts academy near our house. It was complete luck that it was a judo academy. It was run by a woman and relatively cheap. I knew Tulika could at least spend two hours a day there,” said Amrita.

Tulika prospered under this tough love. For the most part, she took advantage of her size. She was always the biggest and tallest girl around. With few women judokas competing in the super heavy (78kg ) weight division, Tulika did not have much competition to overcome domestically. As an 18-year-old, Tulika won her first senior national title at the weight.

Solanki, who reached the bronze medal match at the 1998 Asian Games, was initially hesitant to work with Tulika, who had another coach. He had built an impressive career in coaching after his days as a competitor. His student Avtar Singh had qualified for the Rio Olympics.

He advised Tulika, but resisted taking her on as a full-time student. Amrita, however, did not relent. “She kept insisting and eventually I agreed.”

He made Tulika work on developing her explosive strength and endurance. “She has lost 35kg. Now, she’s almost all muscle. Earlier, she couldn’t bench press more than 40kg and couldn’t do a single free squat. Now she benches 85kg and squats 120kg for repetitions. Earlier, she would run a 400m lap in 2 minutes. Now she does it in a minute and 15 seconds,” he said.

As Tulika’s judo career blossomed, her expenses rose. “She had to travel for competitions. The government pays for some tournaments, but we pay for many more. Then there is kit and diet. I always complain to her that she’s eating me out of my house. I sometimes tell her if judo doesn’t work out, I’ll find three houses for her and have her wash dishes,” said Amrita. She is quick to add in the same breath, “But I’m her mother after all. Of course, I’ll pay.”




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