New Delhi, Dec 2 : The first ever Khelo India- Para Games are set to commence from December 10, 2023.For the first time, country’s para stars will make their presence felt in this much awaited event.
One of the many stars that nation shall witness is Sheetal Devi, the first female armless-archer who has become the latest sensation of the country.
Sheetal won double gold medal at the 4th Asian Para Games at Hangzhou, China and just days after that went on to won two team event gold and an individual bronze at the Asian Para Championship held at Bangkok, Thailand.
She has already secured a quota to represent India at the Paris Paralympics, 2024 and now has her eyes set on winning some more medals but this time for Jammu and Kashmir.
“Apne ghar mein khelna aur apne saathi players ke saath khelna thodaa ajeeb sa lagega kyunki sab ek doosre ko achee tarah jaante hain.
Baahar to hum opponents ko itna nahin jaante, par yahaan to sab apne hain, isliye sabse mushkil hoga.” (It is always going to be a different pressure at home playing against your own fellow archers with whom you have been training all year.
You don’t really know your opponents at international level, but here, all are your friends, so it’s going to be tough) acknowledges Sheetal, emphasising the unique challenges and camaraderie that come with competing against familiar faces.
Hailing from Loidhar village in Kishtwar (J&K), Sheetal was born with Phocomelia, a condition resulting in under-developed limbs.
With her sheer determination and talent, she has become household name, capturing hearts and imagination of India.But she doesn’t remember how she started using her legs for the work that normal kids used to do with their hands.
“I loved going to school.In fact, I always wanted to become a teacher as they command so much of respect from society.
When teacher used to give us work, I used to write with my leg.I don’t exactly remember how I did it.Maybe, I had no other option but to use my legs in ways that others couldn’t imagine,” says Sheetal remembering her initial days.
As the Khelo India Para Games approach, Sheetal Devi stands as a beacon of inspiration, challenging preconceived notions of ability and redefining the boundaries of what can be achieved.
“I just started archery just two years ago.But I had heard a lot about Khelo India games.I was curious as to when Para Sports would be included in the Khelo India program and now we have this golden opportunity.I want to win as many medals as possible for Jammu.
It would be different feeling competing with your close friends,” says Sheetal with a grin on her face.
Sheetal Devi’s journey is a reminder that the playing field is vast and inclusive, welcoming individuals of all abilities to showcase their talents and pursue their dreams.
As she steps onto the archery range in New Delhi, Sheetal carries not only her own aspirations but also the hopes of countless others who see in her a symbol of courage and possibility.
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