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Security guard’s daughter from Pune wins gold in skateboarding – National Games 2022
It was the financial distress that forced Shraddha Gaikwad’s father to shift the family base from Beed to Pune in search of a living, four years ago.
In their adopted city, Shraddha’s father lands a job as a security guard at a Decathlon store and that changes her fortune.
On Saturday, competing in her first national-level competition, she won the National Games gold in street skateboarding.
“Before moving to Pune, I had never heard about skateboarding. It was during a visit to the Decathlon store to give lunch to my father, I saw a customer doing skateboarding and it fascinated me so much that I couldn’t stop myself and requested the Decathlon executive if I could try it once,” recalled Shraddha. “In my first attempt, I was able to balance on the skateboard. After that it became a regular routine for me and I started visiting the store on a daily basis for skateboarding.”
Shraddha’s talent was spotted by Abu Shekh, then manager of the store, and she got her own skateboard.
“I was skateboarding at one corner of the store and as I didn’t have shoes, I was doing it wearing slippers. Abu Shekh sir saw me and I got scared that he might scold me and it's going to be the end of my skateboarding. But Shekh sir was extra nice and he gifted me a skateboard and a pair of shoes,” says the National Games champion.
In 2019, during a skateboarding workshop at Decathlon, she came in contact with coach Swapnil Magar. “Swapnil sir got impressed with my game and told me to join his classes. But because of financial constraints, he offered to train me for free” “There was a time when my father lost a job in Decathlon, at that time my mother had even done household work in other houses. For me, pursuing a sport like skateboarding was nothing less than a dream. The award money that I will get for winning the National Games gold, I am going to use it to support my Olympics dream.”