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‘Fab Four’ of lawn bowls enjoy their newfound fame | More sports news

BAVLA: “We earned this. Respect”, a radiant Beautiful Choubey told TOI when the 42-year-old from Jharkhand was given a warm welcome by fellow team members and rival challengers on the bowling greens of Kensville Golf and Country Club, the venue for the men’s and women’s lawn competitions on the National Games here, two hours drive from Ahmedabad.
The same admiration was reserved for Rupa Rani Tirkey, pinkic and Nayanmoni Saikia – members of the famous quartet that led India to a historic gold for the four women’s lawn bowls at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Birmingham two months ago.
Calling them the ‘Fab Four’, ‘Golden Girls’ or ‘Bowlingwood Queens’, they will always be remembered as the pioneers, trendsetters and history makers who put Indian lawn scales on the world map and revitalized recreational sports in the country. They enter the National Games as rivals – Lovely and Rupa Ranic represent Jharkhand while Pinki and Nayanmoni pop up for Delhi and Assam respectively. But they are united by a common goal – to bring more medal honors to the nation.
“Whenever people in India talk about lawn bowls, the first four names that come to mind will be our own. This thought alone gives us great joy and happiness. We have braved several opportunities and hardships to get to where we are today. do you want more in your sports career? We didn’t have an identity for the CWG. But wherever we go now, people recognize us by our names and faces. This is the biggest compliment we’ve received as bowlers,” said Choubey, who as officer works in the Jharkhand Police Department.
Tirkey admitted it’s been a rollercoaster ride for them since returning from Birmingham, with loads of congratulations and reality shows to attend, which was another dream come true for them.
“Life has completely changed for us. It’s like living in a different world. For the past 15 years we have struggled for recognition. This is the fourth National Games I have participated in since 2007. No one would recognize me. I was just another athlete from Jharkhand. Today I was blown away by the amount of respect and praise bestowed by fellow athletes. This has been a life-changing journey for us,” said Tirkey, who works in the state sports department in Ranchi.
Saikia’s voice choked and her eyes grew moist as she recalled an incident in her hometown of Golaghat in Assam. “After returning from Birmingham with the gold medal, my mother told me, ‘In the past people used to say that Nayanmoni is my daughter. Now the same people say that I am Nayanmoni’s mother.’ I felt so proud when I listened to those words of hers. It’s like I’ve achieved everything in my life,” said the former weightlifter.
While Nayanmoni has received Rs 50 lakh in cash reward and the rank of DSP from the Assam government, both Choubey and Tirkey are waiting for the prize money and promotion of the Hemant Soren led the government of Jharkhand.
“Until now, we have not received anything from the government. They have a policy to reward the athletes, but in our case, nothing has happened. When we look at our counterparts from Punjab or Haryana, we feel sad. Hopefully, the government will reward us soon,” Choubey said.

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