Jabalpur: Shreya Gupta, Jammu and Kashmir’s TOPS development fencing athlete, was so mischievous and energetic as a child that her parents got her into sports to channelize her energy in a better way. Shreya first started with Taekwondo but one day when she went to see fencing with her brother, she never looked back at any other sport.
One of the country’s best talents in women’s fencing, Shreya lived up to her reputation as she made her debut at the ongoing Khelo India Youth Games in Madhya Pradesh and ended her journey with a Gold medal. Shreya, who won gold in the Saber event, said, “Being a TOPS development athlete, everyone was expecting a gold from me. I am happy with my performance but the match was very close.”
Shreya has so far won 3 bronze medals in international events in her career. In addition, Shreya has won 15 gold, 4 silver and 8 bronze medals in national events. She has won 12 gold and three silver for the state. Sher-e-Kashmir Sports Awardee Shreya has been the Junior (Under-19) National Fencing Champion twice and Cadet (Under-17) National Fencing Champion for 5 consecutive years. Shreya had won a bronze medal in the team event in the National Games held in Gujarat last year.
Shreya, who recently went on a 3-month exposure trip to Hungary sponsored by the Target Olympic Podium Scheme, has put up impressive performances in four World Cups held in Kazakhstan, Germany, Budapest and Poland. Apart from this, she ended 2022 on a high by winning bronze medals at the Asian Championship held in Uzbekistan and the Commonwealth Championship held in London.
How did you get into this game? On this Shreya said,- “I was a very mischievous child in my childhood. I had a lot of energy. My father Sanjay Gupta, who is an architect, got me into sports to channelize my energy in a better way. I started going to Taekwondo. I fell in love with it and in about four years I won many awards. My brother, who now works in a private bank, used to do fencing. I went to watch fencing with him one day. I liked this game. Since childhood, I loved to look like a ‘warrior’, act on stage and feel things differently. I personally liked fencing because of its special uniforms, masks and warrior-like-training and that attracted me a lot. After this, in 2013, I started going to MA Stadium in Jammu to further my fencing training.”
Bhavani Devi, India’s first and only female Olympic fencer, defeated Shreya in the final of the Senior Fencing Nationals held in Amritsar in February 2022. Shreya says that she has got to learn a lot from Bhavani didi. Shreya says- “Bhavani didi has always inspired me. When we were in Hungary for an exposure tour, she told me about the struggles she faced in her early years and how she overcame them. I have always been inspired by her words.”
Shreya is one of the most promising athletes of the country. She herself knows that she has a long way to go and for this she has to capitalize on every opportunity. Talking about her future goals, Shreya said, “My long term goal is to win a medal for India in the 2028 Olympics. Before that, I want to play in the Asian Games this year and win a medal.”
Shreya, who considers former captain of the Indian cricket team Mahendra Singh Dhoni as an inspiration in her personal life, is also a huge fan of American fencer and doctor Kamali Thompson. From Dhoni she learns the art of being restrained and from Doctor Thompson she has learned the art of mixing her hobby and her profession well.
Shreya believes that ever since Bhavani Devi qualified for and participated in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, fencing in India has got a big boost and at the same time has given a lot of exposure to the players. Shreya says,- “Bhavani di has opened the way for us. She herself has reached here with a lot of struggle but with her success, our struggle has reduced. Now we are getting exposure tours abroad. Don’t know how many problems Bhavani didi must have faced 10 years ago. She is an inspiration to us.”
Regarding the arrangements made in Madhya Pradesh for Khelo India and this platform, Shreya said that there is no dearth of talent at the junior level in India. Her final is an example of this. Shreya said,- “My final is an example of the fact that we have a lot of talent at the junior level. In the final, I was able to beat Laishram Abi Devi (Manipur) 15-14. It was a very close match. Apart from Laishram, Himanshi Negi (Haryana) and Pragya (Haryana) are good athletes. All of them practice with me at Sanskardham Sports Academy (Ahmedabad). Khelo India Youth Games is organized in an international level environment and has proved to be the best platform for all of them because from here they will get a different level of confidence.”