Catch them young is a clichéd adage but nurturing a toddler who is just 35 months old is a jaw-dropping experience for the sports fraternity.
Meet Dolly Shivani Cherukuri, the kid sister of late Indian coach and international archer Ch. Lenin who died in a road accident soon after the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, who is already a promising archer from the stable of Volga Archery Academy.
Shivani is all set enter the India Book of Records, when she gears up to register 200 points in the five-meter and seven–metre distances on March 24. “This will be a world record attempt as no one has achieved this feat. She will be firing 72 arrows in 24 attempts with two minutes duration for three arrows for both distances. She is already scoring more than 400 points during practice sessions,” says the tiny tot’s mentor Chandrasekhar Laguri, a recurve coach from Jharkhand.
Shattered by his son’s death in 2010 and daughter’s untimely demise in 2004, Volga Archery Academy chairman Cherukuri Satyanarayana wanted someone from his family to carry on the legacy of archery from Vijayawada, which is historically known for Arjuna receiving the ‘ Pashupatastra’ (deadly weapon) from Lord Shiva at Indrakeeladri, the present abode of Goddess Kanakadurga.
Satyanarayana and his wife Krishna Kumari, moved by the honour bestowed on their late son Lenin by the 49th FITA World Conference at Turin (Italy) decided to adopt surrogacy. “When we came to know that the baby was on her way we decided to mould her as an archer. The preparation was on while she was in the womb itself,” says Satyanarayana.
While he was at Legnica (Poland), he took the help of a bow-maker and brought home 30 tiny carbide recurve bows made of optic fibre. “When Shivani was born on April 2, 2012, she arrived amidst the bows and arrows. Her 35-month journey so far has always been with archery. Literally, she speaks, dreams, eats archery and mingles with senior archers,” says her father proudly.
Amazing commitment It is a sight to relish the commitment of the toddler as nothing matters to her except archery. Shivani, under the tutelage of her coach behaves like any other senior archer. She is always in uniform while practicing and she carries her bow-stand and uses other accessories without anyone’s help. She fixes the arrow to the string all by herself and releases it towards the target face with loads of concentration.
“We have already taught her the importance of yellow colour in the target face which carries 10 points. She maintains a book and all her scores are recorded for future reference,” says coach Chandrasekhar.
She uses slingers, finger tap, arm and chest guards with élan and also plucks the stuck arrows from the target face all by herself. “Only when the arrows are not reachable she yells for help,” says Josthna, her fellow archer.
“Every two months, we want to increase the distance by two metres. In 2020, Shivani will be nine years old and I wish her to be in the Indian team,” says Satyanarayana, who was instrumental for producing several top class Indian compound archers like Vennam Jyothi Surekha (Asian Games medallist), Chittibomma Jignas, Ritul Chatterjee (CWG medallist), Mangal Singh Champia (Olympian) from Volga Archery Academy.