Published On : Sun, Jul 9th, 2017

Who is this ‘Golden Girl’ of Nagpur who has been winning Gold in Yoga since age 8?


Little Dhanashree loved to watch her mother do Yoga, so it wasn’t a wonder that she and her elder sister too soon began joining in.

Even otherwise, Dhanashree, younger daughter of Professor Prema and Dr. Sudhir Lekurwale, was always a sports enthusiast. Right from her toddler age almost!

At age 5 or so, this little girl was already a swimmer and a Volley ball player. Her mother, who was a teacher by profession, was an enthusiastic Yoga practitioner. Not only did she do Yoga, she participated in competitions – and won.


The daughter was to continue this winning streak. When she was just 8, the Nagpur Zilla parishad held Yoga shibir and competitions where she was enrolled in ‘junior under 12’ category. To everyone’s surprise, except her mother’s, she stood first and got a Gold medal!

It so happened that both Yoga and swimming competitions had happened at the same time and Dhanu had to select which to participate in. She selected Yoga, and this became her primary ‘sport’ after she won the Gold.

” Play whichever game you want, cricket, hockey, football or participate in any athletics like running or swimming – you HAVE to turn to yoga sooner or later for fitness, dexterity and health” says this yoga expert.

It has helped her tremendously in her studies too. Being an active participant of national and international yoga competitions hasn’t affected her studies at all. She has completed her B.Sc in Science from Mohta Science college and is now a post graduate student of Mathematics at Nagpur University campus.

“Why Maths?”

“Because along with yoga, this is another ‘science’ that India taught the world” the 23 year old replies promptly!

“Where would maths be without the Indian ‘zero’?”

But don’t go by her tender age, or her polite, quiet demeanor. She is a fighter, with the killer instinct, even if it is in a ‘civilized’ ancient art of Yoga.

There was no looking back for this girl after that first Gold 15 years ago.

After that win, she went of to qualify and then get selected as Indian representative for the 3rd Asian Yoga Sports Championship that was to be held in Malaysia.

The competition was not going to be just in basic yoga: there was Artistic and Rhythmic yoga added to the competition too.

Dhanashree, her mother and her Guru Anil Mohgaonkar ( of Unity Sports) studied these two new techniques of yoga, on video, and evolved a unique style for Dhanashree.

Getting to Malaysia was no less a challenge in itself. Though she was India’s representative, neither the Central nor the state government helped one iota in financing the travel or other allied expenses!

Probably it was for this reason that the ‘sport of yoga’ had been dominated by ‘athletes’ from Punjab and Haryana till then. Dhanashree was the first one ever to go from Vidarbha!

She not just went – sponsored by her parents and their friends – she put up a grand performance in all 3 categories and she won Gold in 2!!

Winning at the Asian competitions has become a habit since then. After participating for the first time in 2013, she won Gold for India in ’14, ’15 and ’16 as well. She is currently preparing to go for the 2017 Asia championship to be held in Singapore soon. No wonder her friends and fellow athletes began calling her ‘The Golden Girl’.

Another epithet she is very fond of is ‘Vidarbha Yog Kanya’. (People call her Rubber ki gudiya too because of her flexibility).

After the Asian Championship, Malaysia beckoned her again in 2015. For the World Yoga Championship this time.

When it is such a big world wide competition, one HAS to train harder, pay more attention to diet, and spend more in getting to the host country early and getting used to conditions there.

Sadly, the 3 times Gold winner got no help again from govt. even for the World competition!

Again, she went on her own steam and participated in 6 events.

21 years old Dhanashree, the Vidarbha yog kanya, did everyone proud by winning 5 medals in this first world competition she participated in!!! A feat that no Indian matched, then or since.

She was compensated officially, to some extent, AFTER winning the medals, but not enough.

Despite wanting to, she could not participate in the 2016 world championship due to lack of finance. It was in a far off European country, which would have costed more in every way, but qualifying being no problem, she still opted out with a heavy heart.

Haven’t we, under PM Modi become World Ambassadors of Yoga? And yet we do not have the wherewithal to finance one athlete who is sure to win for the country??

Makes one think, do we only play lip service to the ancient form of physical, mental and spiritual exercise that Yoga is?

Dhanashree does not spend ( waste?) time thinking such depressing thoughts.

Yoga has taught her to be optimistic, cheerful and a winner. Right now she is all geared to leave for Chandigarh first from 19th to 26th for ‘training’ and then leave for Singapore for the Championship.

But we have to ask ourselves – do we deserve her???

… Sunita Mudaliar (Executive Editor )