Asian Para Archery C’ship: J&K’s Sheetal Wins Multiple Golds
Published On: 23 Nov 2023 Updated On: 23 Nov 2023
The formidable and magnificent performances of Sheetal Devi and Rakesh Kumar made India wrap up the Asian Para Archery Championships event by concluding the competition with nine medals (4 gold, 4 silver, and 1 bronze). Long-established powerhouses in the field of Archery such as China and South Korea were in third and second spots respectively proving the fact that the 7-medal win by the Indian archers in the recent Asian Para Games held in Hangzhou last month, and crossing the 100-medal barrier, was not a bluff.
Student and trainee of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board Sports Complex, Sheetal Devi outshined the other archers with her excellent performance in the Hangzhou Asian Para Games. She displayed a fine form even in the Bangkok Asian Para Archery C’ship. Hailing from Loidhwar village in the region of Kishtwar in Jammu Kashmir, the 16-year-old clinched the silver medal in compound open women against Indonesian Nur Alim Syahidah after an intense battle of five rounds of regulations ending in a tie 142-142 deadlock. The final shoot-off also resulted in a tie, but Nur Alim Syahidah bagged the gold medal for hitting closer to the centre.
Diagnosed with Phocomelia since birth, a symptom resulting in under-developed limbs, Sheetal trained in archery for two years and became the first armless woman to win a Para World Archery Championships medal, silver, in July 2023. The Indian women’s archery team, Sheetal and Jyoti won in the compound open women’s doubles against South Korea’s Jin Young Jeong and Na Mi Choi in a one-sided final with a scoreboard of 148-137. The 16-year-old also combined with Rakesh to win the compound open mixed-team event.
Ranking 5th in the world, Rakesh Kumar, with his splendid display of performance on Wednesday, 22nd of November 2023, bagged 3 gold medals in the Asian Para Archery Championship. Residing in the Katra region of Jammu and Kashmir, the 38-year-old Rakesh secured top spots in all of the events he participated in, that is, compound open men, compound men open doubles, and compound open mixed team events. The archer clinched a silver medal in the Hangzhou Asian Para Games. Rakesh did not lose his composure in the closed-off battle against Ken Swagumilang and turned the game in his favor by a two-point midway deficit into a narrow 145-144 win.
Partnering with Suraj Singh, Rakesh Kumar won the men’s compound open team gold against Chung-Hung Wu and Chih-Chiang Ching of China Taipei with a scoreboard of 147-144. On top of that, he won the mixed-team event with Sheetal Devi against Teodora Audi Ayudia Ferelly and Ken Swagumilang of Indonesia with a close win of 154-149.
Rakesh was raised in a humble family. His father, a carpenter, and mother took care of the household chores. Rakesh met with an accident in 2010 January that resulted in paralysis of his legs. Having to use the wheelchair since the accident, Rakesh slipped into depression before he got scouted by coach Kuldeep Kumar in the year 2017. Trained in the same center where Sheetal is taking her training, Rakesh trained meticulously in the archery center of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board Sports Complex. Soon enough, he became a world-class para-archer with his polishing skills and won the men’s compound open section of the Fazza Para Archery World Ranking Tournament in Dubai in the year 2021. He finished at the sixth spot in the Tokyo Paralympics, held in the same year.
Indian women’s archery team lost to Indonesia in the women’s recurve open team final in the tie-breaker round with 4-5. The men’s recurve team of Harvinder and Vivek Chikara then settled down to silver after losing to South Korea by 2-6 points. Another silver medal was secured after the men’s recurve W1 doubles team of Adil and Naveen lost to South Korea by 122-137.
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