Olympian archer Pravin Jadhav has played a huge role in popularizing the sport in the interiors of Maharashtra, especially in his native Satara. Young children took up the sport and joined nearby academies to learn the art of bow and arrow. One such aspiring archer, Aditi Gopichand Swami, was inducted into a local academy by her father in 2016 after seeing success at Jhadav. There has been no turning back for Swami since. Last May, she teamed up with Sakshi Chaudhary and Parneet Kaur to win gold at Stage 2 of the 2022 Archery Asian Cup in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq.
On Sunday, the 15-year-old bolstered Maharashtra’s medal tally by winning an individual gold medal in the compound event at the Khelo India Youth Games at the Panjab University grounds in Chandigarh. Swami recorded a convincing 144-137 victory over Punjab’s Avneet Kaur to claim the honors and put his state forward.
“It’s my first Khelo Games and I’m thrilled to have won an individual gold medal to help my state gain momentum in the medal count. With each contest, we get better at archery. I try to gain experience and use it in future tournaments,” said Swami, who idolizes Indian ace from Andhra Pradesh Jyothi Surekha Vennam.
It was difficult for Swami to cope with the lockdowns imposed in Maharashtra due to the raging pandemic and training through video calls with his trainer. “2020 was the year I would have played a lot of junior tournaments. I couldn’t go to the academy to train but my coach provided me with equipment which I set up in front of my house on a small pitch. When the restrictions were lifted, I started to devote more time to the academy. I am now preparing for the Youth World Championships to be held in Ireland and also for the Asian Games selections” , said Swami whose father is a teacher and his 10-year-old brother is an aspiring archer who trains at the same academy.
“She is the youngest archer from Maharashtra to have won medals in the senior national championships as well as the junior national championships. She is very focused and devotes most of her time to training and meditation. More exposure will boost her confidence, she can be the best archer in India in a few years,” said Swami’s coach, Nitu Ingole, who is also a former archer from Maharashtra.