Young gymnast Purva Kirve hungry for more after Khelo India success

February 16, 2018, Mumbai


There are a number of things parents fret about these days when their child has to be admitted in a school. With the usual stereotypical thought that a good school would produce a good student, the inaugural stone of that unending chain is based on a number of factors. What often doesn’t make a mark in that checklist though, is perhaps if the school has a playground.

For Vijay Kirve and Rohini Kirve, however, that was the most critical factor. “When she was young and we were planning to admit her in one of the schools nearby, the only criterion that we had was that the institution should have a field. DAV had one, but it wasn’t too big,” Vijay Kirve said. But sports couldn’t be compromised. Thus, the only option that they had was to admit Purva, their only daughter, to Saraswati Krida Sankul, near Thane station, at the age of six. Purva’s uncle and grandfather used to play cricket at the college-level, and that’s only as far the family was associated with sports.

However, at 14, Purva is already reaping benefits of her parents’ decision. With 61 medals at the state and national level, of which 36 are gold, Purva has been steadily polishing her skills since joining the district coaching centre. Her coach, Mahendra Babhulkar, also feels that his ward is a special talent but admits that the journey has just started. Purva recently bagged gold in the uneven bars discipline and a bronze each in the floor exercise and all-round competition at the Khelo India School Games in New Delhi.

The strenuous routine, which has seen Purva part ways with ice-cream, her favourite dessert, is hard to follow but she says she’s gotten used to it, albeit in a reluctant manner. Still a teenager, it’s understandable given that she can’t do a number of things that her friends do almost every other day.

“There’s a huge difference between their lives and mine. I need to achieve something in life. At times I do feel like going out with them,” Purva says.

Strangely enough, both Purva and Babhulkar’s journeys started in Patiala; separated by a few decades though. It was there that Purva had decided that she wanted to be a gymnast with four silvers at the under-10 nationals being a good enough reason for her to believe in her credentials. For Babhulkar, it was a diploma degree at the National Institute of Sports that started his journey before he went on to become the national women’s coach.

Quite like her parents, Purva recalls that throughout the years, the school’s support has also been a fundamental reason for his daughter’s success. “Because of her involvement with sports, she often misses school. However, never has anyone from the school approached me stating that this is a problem. If Purva can’t write her exams, they ensure she gets to take that at a later date. Since there’s no pressure, it also eases up Purva’s mind and helps her concentrate on her sport.”

Nine years is a long time. Keeping a child’s tantrums under control, shaping her both mentally and in the course of life is indeed a tough job for coaches. However, Babhulkar couldn’t recollect one incident when his ward turned a truant.

“She’s never afraid and the best part is that she never disobeys me. It’s like ‘If sir has asked me to perform this, I will have to do it’. She doesn’t think of the consequences, if she’s going to have a false landing or anything as such,” he added. “There are moves that I know she won’t be able to pull off at the first go. But if I ask her to, she tries to do it without even giving it another thought.”

The trust is in fact mutual. “I don’t think too much. If sir asks me to do something, I do it. I have the confidence in him that if I fail, he won’t let me fall down,” Purva adds nonchalantly.

Babhulkar wants Purva to excel in the uneven bars discipline, something he feels the country is lagging behind by quite a bit. “India is way behind in terms of developing talents on uneven bars in comparison to other European countries. Hence, I’m focusing on that. Purva still has a long way to go in terms of the discipline but I haven’t yet added too many elements in her routine. It takes time but I’m sure within a year’s time she’ll be a much improved gymnast,” Babhulkar added.

Given the kind of societal norms and peer pressure that prevails, Purva’s success is probably a lot to do with the mindset of Rohini and Vijay Purve, the parents who had no clue of their daughter’s talent, yet never discouraged her from dancing away to glory.

Related Post