For representational purposes
For representational purposes

Andhra's 12-year-old bronze medallist Madala Surya Hamsini fell in love with archery after watching Bahubali

Enamoured by Prabhas and his skills in archery in Bahubali, Madala Surya Hamsini told her father that she was going to switch sports.

PANCHKULA: Like most kids in Andhra Pradesh, Madala Surya Hamsini too was baptized into badminton. But when she was 9, she happened to watch the blockbuster movie Bahubali.

Enamoured by Prabhas and his skills in archery, she told her father that she was going to switch sports. "The bow and arrow looked so good," she chirped, shortly after winning the individual bronze in the Girls compound archery.

It is this clarity in thought that sets Madala apart. At 12, the lass from Bhimavaram West Godawari is not only one of the youngest athletes at the Khelo India Youth Games but also the youngest to win a medal in archery.

Chirpy and joyous, her medal performance is even more noteworthy as she was up against two international archers. Unfazed, she defeated Priya Gujjar, a World Cup team gold medallist, and Parneet Kaur, an Asia Cup silver medallist, with ease.

Madala's mantra was simple. "I just concentrated on my shooting. I didn't even pay attention to who my opponent was."

Call it childish innocence or the confidence of a young girl. She doesn't feel the stress that bears down on most athletes.

"Madala is fearless," her coach Kamal Kishor Rohilla said, offering a better explanation for her success.

"It's easy to make the first record in archery. Sustaining it is the real challenge because the mind tends to get stressed with the weight of expectation," Kamal Kishor added.

The gold, incidentally, was taken by Aditi Gopichand Swami, another youngster who had to slay another seasoned campaigner on her way to the top of the podium.

The 15-year-old from Satara, Maharashtra overcame Avneet Kaur, a World Cup mixed team gold medallist, to confirm the theory that archers start winning early.

"She is known for her cool demeanor and boldness on the ground. It doesn't bother her, who the opponent is," her coach Praween Sawant said.

She fell in love with the sport the first time she saw it at a stadium. "It fascinated me, especially the technique and focus that it required," she revealed.

Aditi is keen to play against Jyoti Surekha Vennam. Why her? "Because she has won 98 medals in various national and international competitions. She is tough."

Thanks to the Archery Association of India and SAI, archery has come a long way from the days when archers hid from people that they played archery.

The New Indian Express