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Updated January 27th, 2024 at 12:38 IST

‘Always wanted to be gold-winning archer, Olympics next target’: Sheetal Devi reveals her future aim

Sheetal Devi, who hails from a village in Jammu & Kashmir, was presented with the Arjuna Award by Indian President Shrimati Draupadi Murmu on January 9th, 24.

Sheetal Devi
Arjuna Award 2023 winner Sheetal Devi (centre) with Fit India Champions podcast host Ekta Vishnoi (extreme right) and coach Abhilasha Chaudhary. (SAI photo) | Image:SAI photo
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Combating life’s odds is a challenging affair. And when one does with clinical precision and amazing regularity, that person is simply extra-ordinary. One such superwoman, para archer Sheetal Devi, is the first speaker on the ‘Fit India Champions’ podcast series that went live on digital platforms on Saturday. The podcast
captures various aspects of this sensational 17-year-old armless archer’s life journey.

A flagship programme of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the Fit India Mission is an endeavour to spread the virtues of physical and mental wellness. The ‘Fit India Champions’ podcast series is aimed at spreading the good words through conversations with athletes and health influencers who are acting as catalysts for change. The 10- episode podcast series is in partnership with GOQii, a major stakeholder in the fitness sector that proactively manages health through its digital and multimedia technology.

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Sheetal’s glorious journey is a story of how doubts transformed into triumph and how the society never treated her as a ‘special’ child. Sheetal Devi was born in 2007 with phocomelia, a rare congenital disorder leading to underdeveloped limbs.

“My friends and teachers always stood by me but never in my wildest dreams did I think I will become an archer. When I saw people were using their hands (to shoot an arrow), I thought it was impossible to do that with my feet. But then I wanted to challenge myself.

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“I didn’t want to become just another archer. I dreamt of doing something special … win an individual gold medal and now my aim is to win one at the Olympics,” Sheetal said in her conversation with the podcast host, Shrimati Ekta Vishnoi, the Mission Director of Fit India and the Deputy Director General, Sports Authority of India.

Born in a village in Jammu and Kashmir, Sheetal Devi, who took the 2023 Asian Para Games in Hangzhou by storm with two gold medals on debut in compound archery, received the Arjuna Award from the President of India Shrimati Draupadi Murmu on January 9 this year. Spotted by Army coaches during an event in Kistwar district, Sheetal’s relentless quest for excellence has made her a special athlete.

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“I have not gone home ever since I came to archery and won’t do so till I finish Paris Olympics, said Sheetal, who added that “focus and the ability to repeat a good performance are key to success in archery.”

“I train for six-seven hours every day, starting my day with stretching the bow and then start playing matches with my brother and sister. My inner mantra is ‘koshish karne walon ki kabhi haar nahi hoti’ and this helps me to win the matches,” revealed Sheetal.

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The episodes, to be released every second and fourth Saturday, will feature a diverse range of athletes and fitness influencers like Olympic and world javelin champion Neeraj Chopra, Tokyo Paralympics gold medallist Sumit Antil, Commonwealth Games 2022 gold medallist boxer Nitu Ghanghas et al.

The Fit India Movement was launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019 with the aim of encouraging people to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The movement has since gained immense popularity across India, with a variety of initiatives and programs being rolled out to promote physical activity and healthy habits.

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Published January 27th, 2024 at 12:38 IST

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