Breaking the traditional boundaries, Juni Rai has not only stepped out of her comfort zone but made the entire nation proud when she bagged gold in the 13th South Asian Games, 2019 in wushu.
30-year-old Juni Rai, from Ilam, is a national and international wushu player.
Now she is serving the nation as the Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) of Nepal police and has been involved in Nepal police from 2072 BS.
With the thought of making herself stronger and learning about self-defense Rai first started Wushu in 2068.
After some time she fell in love with the sport and has been involved ever since. As the fondness grew, she wanted to get into the sport professionally and create a space for herself in the wushu world.
Once she started winning a few medals it added fuel to the fire and pushed her even more. Rai says, “As I got through my journey, I dreamt of achieving more. For this I worked hard every day which made me what I am today”.
Rai considers Indian Boxer, Mary Kom her role model and inspiration. Rai says, "I got inspired by the senior athletes and coaches too; they’ve always helped and supported me”.
Although society expects girls only to be homemakers, Rai shares that her family and friends were all very supportive in her journey. Rai has just recently got married and shares that her husband is even more supportive towards her career and looks forward to achieving even more for the nation.
The only time Rai felt hopeless and demotivated was when her father had an accident. The incident made Rai lose the track she had set for herself but she did not let that stop her. Rai says, "After that one time, I have never let myself be demotivated till today”.
As the quote says “Hard work is the key to success”, Rai’s hard work has definitely paid off. She has remained four times national champion of Wushu (Shanshu) in her category. In the 12th South Asian Games 2016, Silong, India, Rai had to settle with bronze which she took as a stepping stone as she grabbed gold in the next South Asian Games. Rai was also awarded the 14th and 15th Nepal National and International Players Association (NNIPA) Best Player of the year. She was also awarded the Best player of the year in the women’s category in the 4th Jhapa Sports Award (NSJF) and the Best police player 2077 award.
“During the lockdown, all my trainings were halted which has definitely lowered my performance”, says Rai. Many games Rai was scheduled to take part in were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that the COVID cases are subsiding Rai is back to training and preparing herself for more medals in the future.
One message Rai shares to all women, in general, is that "We women can do anything, all we need is hard work and to believe in ourselves”.