Vijayawada

The golden arrow in city’s quiver

Jyothi Surekha

Jyothi Surekha  

Jyothi Surekha has done well on the academics front also

A night before the compound archery team finals at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Vennam Jyothi Surekha’s father Surendra Kumar speaks to her on the phone: “For you, a perfect score of 80/80 is possible. Good luck, kuturu.”

At the match against South Korea, Surekha and her team mates Mukan Kirar and Madhumita Kumari settle for a silver medal.

But, each time she fires an arrow, it pierces through the 10-point yellow circle, making her father, watching the contest on a TV at her home here, launch into a celebration.

Back home, the 22-year-old handed over the prize money to her parents, farmers, who moved to the city from Nadimpalli of Cherukupalli mandal in Guntur district in 2001 for her training.

In 11 years, she has taken part in 23 national and 34 international championships.

“In the current scenario, barely anyone risks taking up a sport professionally. Children are forced to study. However, my parents encouraged me,” says Surekha, on a break from practice sessions at the Centre of Excellence in Sonipat, Haryana.

But, she didn’t neglect studies.

Father’s dream

If securing a distinction in computer engineering from the KL (deemed to be university) wasn’t enough, perhaps another target might fulfil academic pursuits of Surekha, a second year MBA student. “ I want her to be an IAS officer,” her father says.

Even so, winning an Arjuna Award in 2017 exemplifies the indispensability of sports in her life.

“Whenever I return home, I swim,” says Surekha, who in 2001, entered the Limca Book of Records at 4 for being the youngest to cross the Krishna river.

However, lack of coaches and rudimentary swimming pools, nudged her to quit, enabling the switch to archery in 2008. Three months into practising at the Indira Gandhi stadium here, she won six gold medals at the mini nationals.

Having produced scores of archers, what makes the city fertile for the sport?

Cultural connotation

“Archery has a cultural connotation here. Arjuna performed penance on the Indrakeeladri hill for the pashupatastra , the arrow he used in the battle of Kurukshetra. He gifted us the sport,” she says.

Returning to the Centre tomorrow, the world Number 14 will train with Abhishek Verma, ranked 5th, for mixed doubles at a championship in Turkey later this month.

“Running is important to control heart beat and sleep for concentration,” she says, adding that coaches asked players to meditate days before a tournament.

Though Surekha has won 57 national and 28 international medals, her dream of winning a gold at the Olympics, which features only recurve archery, remains distant.

“I can’t switch forms at this point. I am happy with who I am,” she says.

Her father adds, “we are hopeful the compound form will feature at the 2024 Olympics.”

After the Asian Games, compound archers and athletes of other non-Olympic sports were dropped from the Sports Ministry’s Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme, which entailed a ₹50,000 monthly stipend for each player, free equipments and foreign coaches.

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Printable version | Mar 27, 2020 12:15:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/the-golden-arrow-in-citys-quiver/article24965480.ece

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