Hyderabad: Telugu archer Vennam Surekha Jyothi lived up to her name when she lit up the Sports Arena in South Dakota, USA, on Saturday as she ended the World Archery Championship in a blaze of glory bagging three silver medals. She is the first Indian to get three silver medals.
After winning the silver medals in the Compound team and mixed events, Surekha lost to the Columbian giant and World No.1 Sara Lopez 144-146 in the 15-arrow final.
“I’m mighty thrilled as I could win three silver medals in a World Championship. It is unfortunate that compound events are not considered an Olympic event in archery unlike the Recurve event. If only it had been an Olympic event! Nevertheless, I’m proud and happy that I could win the medals for my country. Yes, it hurts when you are not recognised for your achievements,’’ said the 25-year-old from the USA.
This Computer Engineer and a MBA in HR Management, now an employee of BPCL, has been India’s most consistent performer ever since she took part in her first international event way back in 2010, This modest Vijayawada ‘Arjuna’ has impeccable record of 6 World Championships medals (four silver and two bronze), 2 Asian Games medals (silver and bronze), seven World Cup medals (3 silver and 4 bronze, eight Asian Championship medals (3 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze), seven Asia Cup medals (4 gold and 3 silver), one silver in World University Games.
That her superlative performances have not been recognized either at the State or Central level is sad. The Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy announced a plot of land along with another international player after the Asian Games but the authorities allotted it near a dumping yard of Vijayawada which they rightly rejected.
“She has brought glory to the country and the state, I feel very sad about the attitude of the officials concerned by allotting a plot near a dumping yard. I have nothing against any player but Surekha has equally done well when compared to other sports persons. She has won more medals than other sports persons, be it in World or Asia meets. It hurts,’’ said her father Vennam Surender Kumar.
The small-time farmer even had to sell 10 acres of land to help her daughter. “Even the Central government, too, has overlooked my performances. By this performance at least she should be recognized with a Khel Ratna or Padma Sri Award. We suffer in silence,’’ he said.
Born to Surendra Kumar and Sri Durga in Challapalli village, Krishna district, Surekha’s initiation into the world of sports and games began at a very tender age of three years by taking to swimming. At four years and 11 months, in the year 2001, she swam five kms across river Krishna and established a unique record as the “youngest swimmer” to cross the river. Thus, her name entered the Limca Book of Records 2002.
“Since it was difficult to get good coaching in swimming 13 years ago, she switched to archery although shooting too came to mind. We also preferred compound archery as there was a lot of competition in Recurve and those days we did not get proper advice. But now sometimes we feel if only she had taken to Recurve, she could have won honours in the Olympics. In fact, she is the only Indian archer who beats the Koreans consistently, be it Worlds or Asian meets,’’ said father Surender.
Surekha may not celebrate her success immediately as she has to take part in the Nationals in Jharkhand. “But I will try to squeeze in a day or two to visit my parents,’’ said Surekha, whose big target is the Asian Games gold next year. Surekha, who shoots more than 200 arrows in her practice session, owes her rise to coaches J Rama Rao and Jeevan Jyothi Singh Teja.
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