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Awesome twosome: Siblings pack a punch with martial arts and social work

Apeejay Faridabad students Yashika Khurana and Akshita Khurana were recently felicitated for their achievements. We go behind the scenes to decode their fitness and diet secrets, likes and dislikes



Class 11 student Yashika Khurana and her sister Akshita Khurana, a class 8 student with Apeejay School Faridabad, are doing wonders in the field of Taekwondo. Yashika is also the brand ambassador for the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign and has taught self-defence to more than 700 girls in Delhi and Haryana. In an interview, the Taekwondo sisters talk about their journey in the sport, training schedules, diet, role models and future targets in the sport as well as in social work. Edited Excerpts:

At what age did you both start learning Taekwondo?

Yashika: I have been practising Taekwondo since the past 8 years. I started the journey when I was in class 2. I was seven years old then.

Akshita: I have also been practising Taekwondo since the past 8 years. I was in Kindergarten when I began to learn the sport. I was five years old then.

What was the inspiration behind choosing Taekwondo?

Yashika: Taekwondo is a martial art. My parents were always of the view that girls must know how to protect themselves. So initially my motive was to learn self-defence, so that I could protect myself in any unwanted situation. Gradually I fell in love with the sport. Now it is my dream to win a gold medal for my country in the Olympic Games.

Akshita: I started going to the practice sessions with my sister actually. Gradually my interest developed in Taekwondo and I then decided to pursue Taekwondo as an athlete and play at a professional level.

 What are your favourite martial arts movies?

Yashika:  Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings. Patience, perseverance and dedication are very important to be a martial artist. All these qualities were highlighted in this movie.

 Akshita:  My favourite movie is Dangal. I was very inspired by the dedication of the sisters, Geeta and Babita Phogat. The game does not matter. What matters is how dedicatedly you pursue the game.

Could you tell us a bit about your recent felicitation?

Yashika: I was recently felicitated at the district Bal Mahotsav ceremony. It was held at Bal Bhavan, NIT Faridabad. I was felicitated for my constant efforts in the field of Taekwondo as well as social work. I was felicitated by the deputy commissioner and the chairperson of the Bal Bhavan institutions.

In the field of Taekwondo, I have represented India in the 2017 and 2019 Asian championships U-14 category. I have also won the bronze medal in the International Open Taekwondo championship 2019 held in Hyderabad. I am also an eight times national medal winner (5 gold medals, I silver and 2 bronze medals throughout my career).

Akshita: I was felicitated for my achievements in Taekwondo. I participated in the International Open Taekwondo championship held in Malaysia in 2017. I have also won the gold medal in the National Open Taekwondo championship in 2019.

Please tell us about your social work initiatives?

 Yashika:  I am the brand ambassador of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign for my district. I have taught various techniques of self-defence to roughly some 700-800 girls from various government schools and NGOs in Delhi and Haryana. I got the opportunity from the Ministry of Women and Child Development. They saw my constant achievements in Taekwondo and recommended my name for the position of brand ambassador in 2020. I am also the brand ambassador of the Maharani Laxmi Bai brigade. Maha Rani Laxmi Bai stands for strength and independence of girls. So, I motivate the girls and train them in self-defence. I have also been felicitated by the district MLAs  in the Republic Day celebration ceremonies held in the district since 2018.

Akshita: I don’t have much contribution in social work actually but I am hopeful that in the near future I will also surely contribute towards a better society in some way or the other.

Please tell us about your training schedules?

Yashika: I wake up daily at 5:30 in the morning. I then go to the stadium (Haryana State Sports Complex) for running, strength training and cardio exercises.  Then I come home around 8:30 AM. I leave for the Taekwondo academy, Korean Culture Centre in Lajpat Nagar, Delhi around 1 PM. It takes me an hour to reach there by the Metro. The practice ends around 5:30 in the evening. The training session includes drills of sets of particular kicks, punches, blocks and some demo-fights in the end. In Taekwondo, the main exercise we do is stretching. Flexibility is a must in this sport. We have to kick our opponent’s face, so in order to take our leg to that height, we have to stretch our legs daily. I do a split of 180 degrees every day in the training session.

Then I reach home around six-thirty and head to the gym at seven in the evening. In the one and a half hour gym session, I purely focus on weightlifting.  

Akshita: Like my sister, I also wake up at 5:30 in the morning. Then I go to the stadium with her for running and other exercises. Then we leave for the academy together again around one in the afternoon. But I don’t go to the gym. So after coming from the academy, I devote the rest of the day to my studies. I try to keep my focus on the academic front as well.

Please tell us about your diet during training?

Yashika: I am fond of black coffee. I use it as a form of pre-work out before going to the gym. It gives me a boost of energy. We have to take lots of fats and sugar in our diet, so I prefer sweet potatoes. I eat rotis only once in my meals. Rotis aren’t very healthy for an athlete actually.

The most important part of my diet is boiled eggs. I eat 5-6 boiled eggs daily. I also eat lots of bananas. I eat one in the morning before going to the stadium, then have a banana shake after coming from the stadium. Then again have bananas as a snack between the Taekwondo practice sessions. So I eat around 6-7 bananas daily. I also consume lots of milk and dry fruits daily.

Akshita:  My diet is very similar to my sister’s. A diet rich in protein is good for an athlete. So, I also eat lots of bananas and dry fruits. I don’t have black coffee since I don’t go to the gym. I instead prefer green tea. It is a very good fat cutter and it’s also very good for your health. Also in the morning I drink the soaked seeds and water of methi dana (Fenugreek). I also drink coconut water and I eat the malai as well (laughs).

Please tell us your strong moves and weak points in Taekwondo?

Yashika: My favourite move is the drop kick. In this we kick the opponent’s nose with our heel. It is a knockout if the kick is on point. I have knocked out some 20-25 girls with this kick (laughs). I also like the round kick, where we swing and kick the opponent’s face. It fetches one five points straightaway.

In weakness, I think that since the pandemic, the practice hasn’t been that regular. So I lost out on some stamina. I’m working out on that issue daily in the stadium.

Akshita: My favourite move is the back-kick and also the slap kick which is known as Dolo-Chekki in Korean. In weakness, I think I need to work on my leg strength a bit more. So I’m focusing on training them more exclusively at present.

Who are your role models in the world of Taekwondo?

Yashika- My favourite martial arts player is Jade Jones from Great Britain.

Akshita- My favourite player is Lee Dae-hoon from Korea. I look up to him. 

How does the school help you in pursuing your passion?

Yashika: The school supports me a lot. I have been given a scholarship by the school, which has taken a substantial amount off from my fees. Whenever I go for any tournament, the teachers provide me with all the classwork and also give me the attendance.  They are so supportive and cooperative.

 Akshita: Even I received a scholarship from the school. The school supports us a lot. The teachers are very kind. They motivate us, tell everyone about our achievements. We feel very proud to be the students of Apeejay Faridabad School. All thanks to our principal ma’am Ms Parul Tyagi.  

What are your future targets and aims in the world of Taekwondo and social work?

Yashika: I aim to represent my country at the international level in Taekwondo. I want to get a gold medal for my country.

In the field of social work, I want to become an IPS officer and serve the nation. That is my biggest dream. I want to become an inspiration for every girl.

Akshita:  I want to bring a gold medal in the Olympics for my country. I am proud to be an Indian. And I want to make my country proud of me.

A talented correspondent writing special articles, interviews and also doing video coverages. Alongside being a poet, short story writer and football player in the time he finds away from work. You can read Arijit's literary pieces and watch his performances easily on the internet. He can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected]

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