In the heart of Goa, a new champion has emerged. Kareena Shirodkar, at 23, is not just a law student but also a gold medalist in Pencak Silat at the National Games 2023. Her journey, from the lanes of Panjim to the national martial arts scene, is a story of grit, discipline, and unwavering determination.
Early Beginnings: A Taekwondo Enthusiast
Kareena’s tryst with martial arts began in childhood. Starting Taekwondo in third standard, she developed a deep passion for it. However, a twist in her journey came when her coach, Siraj Khan, urged her to try Pencak Silat, owing to complications with the Taekwondo association. Embracing this change, Kareena ventured into new territory.
A Shy Girl Turned Fearless Fighter
Initially a quiet, shy girl, Kareena was encouraged by her mother to become strong and independent. This push led her to discover her love for martial arts, transforming her into a fearless athlete.
The Turning Point: Meeting Coach Siraj
Meeting Coach Siraj in 2016 or 2017 was a turning point. He recognized her fearlessness and potential to excel. Although initially aiming just for participation, her hard work and dedication soon positioned her for winning a medal.
Pencak Silat: A New Challenge
Pencak Silat, an Indonesian full-body combat sport, introduced in Goa in 2017, posed a new challenge for Kareena Shirodkar. Integrating elements of boxing, Taekwondo, and Judo, it required her to adapt and learn quickly. Despite its danger, she found it fascinating and embraced its complexities.
The Weight Category Hurdle
One of her significant challenges was meeting the weight category requirements. Dropping weight from 89.9 to 82.5 kg in a month tested her discipline and commitment, a task made tougher by her love for food. However, with her mother’s and coaches’ support, she overcame this hurdle.
Family: The Backbone of Success
Kareena attributes much of her success to her family. Her mother’s faith and her father’s cautious support played pivotal roles in her journey. They were instrumental in shaping her into the athlete and person she is today.
More Than Just Winning
For Kareena, participating in the National Games was about more than just winning. It was about making Pencak Silat known. She believes that starting young in martial arts can aid in physical and mental development, crucial for academic success.
The Moment of Triumph
Winning the gold medal was a surreal experience for Kareena. The joy and pride of this achievement were unparalleled. The rigorous training, the sacrifices, and the dedication culminated in this glorious moment.
A Dream for Goa
Kareena’s aspiration was always to make her state proud. Winning a medal for Goa was not just a personal achievement but a way to give back to her community. This victory was a proud moment for her and her family.
Beyond the Mat: A Future in Civil Services
Kareena’s ambitions extend beyond martial arts. She aspires to serve her country by joining the civil services. Her law background is a strategic step towards this goal.
Empowering Young Women
Kareena advises young girls to learn martial arts for self-defense and confidence. She emphasizes the importance of sports alongside education for overall development.
Kareena Shirodkar’s journey is a testament to the power of determination and passion. Her story resonates with the spirit of Goa, showcasing that with hard work and support, one can achieve greatness in multiple fields.