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Para Sports

World No. 1 archer Sheetal Devi aiming for gold at Paris Paralympics

"Being You" is humbled to have been a part of the journey

Sheetal Devi Archery
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Sheetal Devi

By

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 1 Dec 2023 1:25 PM GMT

Sheetal Devi's story is one of fierce grit and determination, but many are still unaware of her incredible journey about how she took up archery and emerged as the champion athlete. The World No. 1 para archer, who bagged two gold medals and a silver at the recent Asian Para Games, is now focused on repeating her performance at next year’s Paralympic Games in Paris.

Bangalore-based storytelling startup, Being You focuses on documenting and celebrating human stories as they believe that positive stories inspire change in Individuals and the society and Sheetal is the biggest example and flag bearer of this initiative.

"Until a couple of years back I had not even stepped out of Jammu and Kashmir. It feels a little overwhelming when I go around representing India in different countries. I handle those moments calmly and ensure I hit the bullseye,” the archer commented while reminiscing how as a 14-year-old she came in touch with Being You in 2021 which changed her life completely.

“I have my eyes on the Paris Paralympics. I am putting all efforts to ensure that the Indian flag flies high on the podium and I bring back as many medals as possible,” she further added.

When Sheetal realised that the prosthetics don’t work for her, she and her family had left all hopes. That is when she saw the stories of Sharath Gaekwad and Shekhar Naik from the book - Being You: Against All Odds, written by Preethi, which got her all inspired. Being You has also signed up with sheetal and will be managing the athlete from here on.

“When we first met her in Bengaluru in 2021, Sheetal was keen to only have prosthetic hands. After a lot of convincing, she decided to take up sports. I and my team and I were convinced that Sheetal had all the qualities and abilities to become an athlete. With the help of GoSports, we reached out to sports physio Srikanth Iyengar and he recognised her sublime core strength, which she had developed while regularly climbing trees in her village and that is how it was decided that she should take up archery,” said Preethi

And what the 16-year-old has achieved in the last two years is a testament of what Being You had envisioned for her, and it is just the beginning of a massive success journey that no one possibly ever imagined for her.

The para-archer's journey took flight as she started to clinch victories in the national and international competitions, culminating in a stellar performance at the Asian Para Games 2023, where she secured two gold and one silver medal.

Already number one para archer in the world after terrific performances in recent tournaments, Sheetal aims to bring more laurels to the country.

Sheetal will continue to train for the forthcoming competitions at the Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board Sports Complex in Katra, who have constantly supported the para archer since she took up the sport. Keeping the funds going has always been a formidable task.

As she has already started preparing for the Paralympics, her focus now is following her training regime. "My present form, diet and focus align with what I need to do to train for the Paris Paralympics 2024. I will continue to improve my game and focus on acing it there,” she concluded.

On the sidelines of the event, Sheetal also unveiled the cover page of the second edition of Being You :Against all Odds by Being You founder Preethi, the same book that inspired her to take up the sport. The first edition of the book was launched in 2021 with 100 Inspiring stories of extraordinary Indians who have achieved the unthinkable, going against all the odds. The book went on to inspire numerous people including Sheetal. The second edition of the book will be launched in January 2024, with a special exclusive story of Sheetal and her unbelievable journey.

List of Acknowledgements

- Amputee sports achievers, Shalini Saraswathi, Briju Mohan & Vishwas: They suggested Sheetal, prosthetics were an hindrance and she should get into sports.

- Former Blind Cricket Captain Shekar Naik & Paralympian Sharath Gaeykwad for sharing their journey with Sheetal and inspiring her

- Go Sports CEO Deepthi Boppaiah for connecting Being You with Srikanth Iyengar & Kuldeep Vedwan

- Physio Srikanth Iyengar- Assessed Sheetal and suggested Archery to go with.

- Sunil Handa, Ekalavya Education Foundation- for all the mentoring

- Aditi & Sneh from Bakers Dozen who backed us financially

- ONGC Foundation for her first state of the art Archery kit

- Anoj from Milaap - Our NGO partners

- MP Tejasvi Surya for recommending to the ONGC for providing archery kit

- Ramesh Kumar IAS, former CEO of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board for accommodating Sheetal and Sh Anshul Garg, Present CEO of Shrine Board

- Sheetal’s Family: Sh Man Singh, Smt Shakti Devi, sister Shivani & brother Ajay Singh

- Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board for the initial equipment & training

- Coach Kuldeep Vedwan & Abhilasha Choudary for training

- Khelo Hero Scheme by Hero MotoCorp through the Paralympic Association of India.

- TOP scheme by Ministry of Sports, Government of India

- OGQ’s for onboarding Sheetal Devi in Dec 2022 & many more

- SBI Foundation

Also, 11 RR Indian Armed forces, Maj Akshay Girish Foundation & Anupam Kher for bringing her dream of getting prosthetic arms to reality which got her to Bangalore. A journey which connected the team to Sheetal which enabled us to change her story line.

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