Six years of dedication and a disciplined regimen of regular training paid off when Sherol Fernandes won the bronze medal in the below 57 category of Taekwondo at the Lusofonia Games held in Portugal recently where eight former colonies of Portugal along with the host country participated.
Way back when Sherol was studying in the V standard at Fatima Convent High School, her father noticed her sporting talent as she used to regularly climb the guava tree in their courtyard at Padribhat in San Jose de Areal.
“I do not know why, but I had this brainwave that she would do well in Taekwondo and as classes in this sport were being held in the village, I got her enrolled,” disclosed her husband Anicet Sucorro Fernandes.
However, as the classes in the village were irregular, she joined the Taekwondo classes at Margao and kept improving her game. In the very first Nationals that she participated at Manipur in 2005, Sherol bagged a silver.
Her tally of medals at the National level are: two gold won in the year 2007 and 2008 and now taking a place of pride is the Bronze medal at the international tournament won in 2009.
However, Sherol very closely missed the games even though she had trained hard for them for nearly one-and-a-half month including a residential camp – the reason being that she was overweight weighing 64.7 kilograms.
In order to qualify, she started eating cabbage and finally when the tournament commenced, the scales showed her weight to be 56.2 kilos meaning she had reduced 7.5 kgs.
Sherol is very happy with her performance and is grateful to the principal of her school – Shree Damodar Higher Secondary School at Paroda – for giving her the permission to not only participate in the games but also to train for it even though it meant she would be missing her classes.
“If only my earlier principal had to give me similar permission, maybe I would have participated in an international tournament earlier,” rues Sherol. In December 2007, Sherol was invited to participate the national Taekwondo camp at Bhopal to select the Indian team for the World Junior Championship and Asian Senior Taekwondo Championship. However, as the principal of Bethany Convent, San Jose de Areal refused to give her any assurance on compensation for missing classes during the training and tournaments, Sherol had to drop out of the camp.
“I wish the government and the schools would give us extra marks for the days we miss classes, specially when we win medals and bring honour and glory not only to the State but also to the institute where we are studying,” opined Sherol.
As the practice sessions were affecting her studies, Sherol’s mother Sucorina, at one stage wanted her to stop Taekwondo. However, her father did not agree and since then both the parents chipped in to ensure that Sherol did not miss her training session with either of them dropping her and picking her up.
“This sport has made me self confident,” discloses Sherol who earlier was a timid child. “For my first match, I was very scared, but after I won it, my confidence rose and today I am no longer scared of entering the ring,” she said.
Sherol has now set her eyes on the Taekwondo Olympics slated to be held in Goa in 2013 while at the same time she is preparing for the West Zone nationals to be held in October this year.
“We have to work very hard and improve our speed,” she quips when asked about lessons learnt from the Lusofonia Games.