Just the way Saina Nehwal and Sania Mirza inspired young girls to take up badminton and lawn tennis with their sheer dynamism and talent, Karanam Twisha aspires to make kayaking popular with her generation.
“A sport becomes popular when a player excels in it, especially in the international domain. If Saina Nehwal could beat her Chinese counterparts, who were dominant in her sport, I would like to compete and win over Europeans, who are pros at kayaking,” says a confident Twisha, a clas 11 student at Kendriya Vidyalaya, MEG & Centre in Ulsoor.
With her father in the army, Twisha’s childhood was spent in several parts of the country — be it Rajasthan or Assam or Leh. By the age of seven she was running 5 km a day with her father and when her family moved to Leh, life at a 11,000 ft. altitude only made her tougher, she says.
At Bangalore, the MEG & Centre offered her various sports: badminton, table tennis, swimming, horse-riding and rowing. But nothing caught her fancy like rowing. “I love water and it captured my interest,” Twisha says. With three months of rowing practice, she took part in the rowing sub-junior national championship in 2008 and finished fourth in double sculls. Seeing her talent her father encouraged her to take up kayaking, she says.
And the results were astonishing. To begin with, at the age of 12, Twisha became the sub-junior under-16 girl kayak champion. And today, she has five gold medals and four international medals under her belt. She was judged best female athlete at the 22nd national kayak and canoe championship for winning five gold medals.
Now, she has turned professional. She wants to take advantage of an early start, she says. Ulsoor lake, the sports-friendly weather of Bangalore and professional support of MEG all help, says a focused Twisha.
She hopes now to compete in the Youth Olympic Games and Asian Games (2014), World Junior Championship, World Senior Championship, Asian Championship (2015), World Senior Championship and Asian Championship (2017), Commonwealth Games and Asian Games (2018), and finally, to win a medal for India at the 2020 Olympic Games.
“But right now, I need professional support to realise my dreams. I need to undergo at least four to six weeks of training abroad and I need to hire a nutritionist, mind coach and sports doctor. Competing at the international level isn’t easy – or cheap!” Twisha adds.