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A dropout who became a world champion 

ISP Bangalore Bureau 

Umadevi was born in a family of weavers in Bangalore. Her dreams of higher education and a career were shattered as she had to leave studies early due to family circumstances. She had to take up a job in her father’s factory. The unfortunate developments of childhood did not stop this child from giving up on her dreams. She beat all situations and became the world Billiards world champion later on in life. Her story is an inspiration for generations. 

Though she was working as a factory worker, to keep her dreams alive, she took typing classes after her job in the evening. In the year 1989 with her hard work at the age of 23, she got a job as a typist in the Horticultural department in Karnataka government. This proved a turning point for her. Her government job gave her access to better things. 

Her Horticulture office was in Lalbagh and sometimes due to work demands, she had to stay back in the office during the evening. She used this as an opportunity. At the age of 29, she was initiated into Snooker and table tennis at Karnataka Government Secretariat Club near Lalbagh. Her attention and determination was drawn towards the green board of Billiards and she confidently picked up the stick and aimed at the colourful balls. Thus began her journey into the world of Billiards and soon she became a member of the Karnataka State Billiards Association. 

She would wake up early in the morning and prepare breakfast and lunch and get ready and go to the office like a normal government servant. She would practise early in the morning before office and during the lunch hour. For tournaments she would stay back and practice during the evenings. 

Umadevi was mentored and coached all through by eminent Billiards players like Shri. Arvind Savur, the Arjuna & Dronacharya Awardee and Indian coaches S. Jairaj, M. G Jayaram, C.Ravindranath and B. Bhaskar. She played at the World Snooker Championship 2010 in Syria. Her endurance and perseverance irrespective of her age and circumstances made her the “Queen of Indian Billiards”.

The six-time Indian national Billiards champion turned into a World Women’s Billiard champion in the year 2012 by defeating Eva Palmius, the World No.13 during the London Championship. In the year 2009, she was conferred with the Ekalavya Award by the Government of Karnataka. In 2018, she was awarded the “Nari Shakti Puraskar” from the President of India Mr Ram Nath Kovind and was also listed among the 30 great women of 2017 in India.

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