Hyderabad: When Shirisha Kerere, a 14-year-old Telangana girl, who is the daughter of a farmer from Pagidyala joined the Yacht Club of Hyderabad, little did she realise that her life was going to change.
Shirisha, a student of Telangana Social Welfare School won a gold medal in the National Sailing Competition held recently in Mumbai. She is now practicing hard for the Telangana State Regatta and Monsoon Regatta which will be held in July.
The Yacht Club of Hyderabad, who trained Shirisha bagged a total of one gold medal and two bronze medals and all the medals were won by the girls. Vijay Kumar (Army) and Durga Prasad (Navy) also won silver medals from Telangana.
Preethi Kongara of Nallakunta Government School, ranked No.3 in India under-16 level, retained her ranking with a bronze in the under-18 girl’s event. This was Preethi’s first national medal. Mehboobee Tungara was the other medal winner who clinched a bronze medal in the under-18 girl’s event. Mehboobee is a student from Marredpally Government School while Sirisha is from Mahabubnagar Government School that comes under Dr RS Praveen Kumar, IPS who runs the Telangana Social Welfare Schools.
Meanwhile, Ajay Gajji, a 10-year-old boy from the club shot up to No. 9 in his first national competition and was shortlisted by the Navy to join their Sailing School in Goa. The 10-year-old Ajay, currently No.1 in Telangana is also the youngest sailor to feature in the top 10 rankings in India.
“Our focus is to get good careers for those who are selected from here. We support them till they graduate and will also help them to select from a wide range of careers. It does help a great deal if they collect a few medals along the way,” said Suheim Sheikh, president and coach at the Yacht Club of Hyderabad.
“This was the first year we took 10 children from the Tribal belt and hopefully we will produce India’s first sailing champion from them. We meet our young alumni from YCH regularly at the national events and it’s great to see them grow into motivated athletes, inculcating the culture and discipline of the armed forces” he added.
“This was my first Nationals and I came first in a race beating all the sailors in India and that felt great,” said Ajay Gajji. His predecessor, Vijay Sabbath from Pargi village of Vikarabad district trained at the Yacht Club and rose to be National Champion at the Army Sailing School. Ajay dreams of following Vijay’s suit.
Meanwhile, Telangana sailors who moved from the Yacht Club to the Army and Navy continue to top the National lists. Durga Prasad, erstwhile National Sub Junior Champion is now ranked No.1 in the under-18 boy’s category. Vijay Sabbath, now part of the Army, is ranked India No.1 in the under-16 boy’s category.