Golden Ladies: How A Police Constable, Forest Officer, PE Teacher & Sports Officer Scripted History

Birmingham: From being complete unknowns to the toast of India, the Indian women’s lawn bowls quartet has come a long way in just a matter of days.

On Tuesday, when they received the gold medal at Commonwealth Games 2022 to the tune of ‘Jana Gana Mana’ playing during the presentation ceremony, the significance of their achievement would still not have sunk in for Lovely Choubey, Pinki, Rupa Rani Tirkey and Nayanmoni Saikia.

Not only did they become the first lawn bowlers from India to bag a medal in Commonwealth Games history, they went on to top the competition beating off stiff challenge from New Zealand in the semifinal and South Africa in the gold-clash.

Neither of them is a spring chicken – the team’s average age is 37.

And the composition of the team is as interesting as it is diverse.

Lovely, a constable with Jharkhand Police, used to be a long jumper and represented her state and East Zone as well before a hip injury cut short her athletics career.

She got into lawn bowls in 2008 and stuck to it after winning Rs 70,000 in a national event, Lovely told PTI.

Rupa was a kabaddi player before shifting to lawn bowls. A District Sports Officer in Ramgarh, Jharkhand, she has featured in all CWGs since 2010.

Nayanmoni, a Forest Officer in Assam, had her weightlifting career halted by injuries before taking up lawn bowls in 2007, ahead of the National Games in Guwahati.

Pinki, on the other hand, was a state cricketer and even led the Delhi University team. The first time she came in touch with lawn bowls was when her school (DPS) was chosen as a practice venue for the sport ahead of the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.

Currently working as physical education (PE) teacher, Pinki competed in her first lawn bowls nationals when the state association couldn’t make up the numbers to field a team! She went on to claim a silver medal, according ESPN Sports.

As for team manager Anju Luthra, she is like their mother.

“I am attached to them since 2009… It’s a long journey, they’re like my daughters, my family. Getting a medal was important because when we go back to India, the federation always says ‘what have you done?’ So we wanted to prove we are not less than any other sport,” Anju told PTI.

Will more sportspersons take up lawn bowls after the stupendous success of Lovely & Co?

Time will tell.

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