KIYG: Bihar’s Shubham overcomes inexperience, wind to win recurve archery gold
CHENNAI — Last month, Shubham Kumar made an arduous 30-hour train journey in the general compartment from his hometown of Arrah in Bihar to Nadiad in Gujarat for the School Games Federation of India’s National archery competition. But despite the hardship he went on to win the team bronze there.
Coming into the 6th Khelo India Youth Games, Shubham had neither faced this level of competition nor witnessed such large-scale arrangements earlier. But nothing deterred him from winning only the second gold medal of the Games for Bihar, in the boys’ recurve category.
The performance may have surprised many at the archery range on a hot, windy afternoon at the Nehru Park Sports Complex in Chennai, but not Shubham himself.
“I had come determined to win a gold at this Khelo India Youth Games and I have achieved that,” a delighted Shubham said. “My initial shooting wasn’t that great, I was placed 11th (in qualifying) but I thought that I will come back the next day and do much better, no matter how windy it was.
“I got to learn a lot here. It was very windy and you had to be really careful. I had not faced this level of competition and this kind of wind earlier,” he added.
Shubham’s achievement becomes even bigger when you consider that he took up archery only three years ago, and started with recurve a year-and-a-half back. “I played in Indian bow category for two years but did not get a medal. Then I took up recurve and after several ups and downs in performance, I have reached this level,” he said.
Although he was in favour of his son’s sporting dream, Shubham’s businessman father was hesitant to spend the stiff sum of INR 3.5 lakh required for his recurve equipment.
But his maternal aunt’s husband, a shooting medallist, convinced his father to invest in the equipment as his son was talented.
The 10th standard student trains under coach Neeraj Kumar Singh at a small archery academy situated in a private multi-sport venue in Arrah. “There is space for only five targets and there is a boundary wall on one side, so you don’t get the feel of the wind too.”
It is far from the ideal set-up, but Shubham is used to bumps on the road. “You need patience in this game, and also to handle various types of constraints. If you can do that, you will go far,” he said.
“I am sure that I will bring an international medal soon,” he added.
KIYG: School bus driver’s daughter wins wrestling bronze, father’s relentless persistence reaps fruit
CHENNAI — At 4.30 in the morning, Jagdish Gulia and his eight-year-old daughter Tannu were glued to television watching Indian women wrestling at the 2016 Rio Olympics. When Sakshi Malik turned the bout on its head in the dying seconds to secure bronze, both Jagdish and Tannu embraced each other in celebration.
It was at this moment when Jagdish, a school bus driver in Haryana, decided that Tannu would become a grappler. On the other hands, Tannu was even more excited thinking about the travelling opportunities she would be getting as an athlete.
She took one step closer to that dream when she won the bronze medal in the 65kg weight category at the Rajarathinam stadium here on Tuesday.
“My father would have been happy with gold, but it’s okay. Unlike the last edition where I was eliminated in the second round and returned empty-handed, this time I have something to show to my father,” said Tannu, who went about displaying her medal around the arena.
Usually, her father travels with her to most competitions, but this time his school did not sanction his leave so she was accompanied by her uncle Narendra and younger cousin sister Sakshi, who could not win a medal.
Tannu has so far won four medals, including the bronze medal here. She bagged the Under-19 School Games gold in 2023; bronze at Under-17 Cadet Ranking Series in 2022 and Under-14 School National Games in 2019.
“In the next Khelo India Youth Games you will see me take the gold. I will leave no stone unturned and work hard from here on. The opportunity and medal at Khelo India Youth Games has pumped me up enough. I know I deserve bigger and better,” Tannu added.
She said her father, despite his low earnings, has done everything to look after wrestler’s diet. “He feeds me everything to keep me strong. My uncle has even bought a buffalo so that there is no shortage of milk and ghee,” she revealed.