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Para-archer Sheetal claims silver in competition with able-bodied at Khelo India National meet

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STATE TIMES NEWS

NEW DELHI: Asian Para Games gold-winner Sheetal Devi grabbed a silver in the Khelo India NTPC National Ranking archery meet, finishing second behind Haryana’s Ekta Rani, who is able-bodied and a junior world champion.
In the competition held at the DDA Yamuna Sports Complex, the 17-year-old Sheetal competed with able-bodied junior archers and lost 138-140 to Ekta in the individual compound event final.
Sheetal, who was bestowed the Arjuna award earlier this year for her two gold and a silver medal winning performance in the Hangzhou Asian Para Games, was born with a rare condition called phocomelia which makes her the first and the only international para-archery champion without arms. Sheetal believes her performance in the Khelo India event will help her prepare for the challenges ahead. “This result will help me more going ahead in the international platforms and the Olympics,” Sheetal was quoted as saying in a media release from the Sports Authority of India.
Her coach Abhilasha said the competition was much-needed for the teenager before the Paralympics.
“Taking part in the national ranking tournament, alongside able-bodied competitors, is giving training and competition exposure which is much-needed prior to the Olympics,” said the archer’s coach Abhilasha. “We have to go abroad for exposure but we are getting the same experience here itself. Domestic-level tournaments like these are helping the cause,” Abhilasha added. On her part, Ekta said she felt inspired by Sheetal’s presence in the competition. “I have faced-off with Sheetal previously so I had the match experience against her. We faced off in Patiala last December as well. It feels good to play against her because she is an armless archer and it gives a lot of motivation as well,” Ekta said.
Ekta bagged the prize money of Rs 50,000 whereas Sheetal received Rs 40,000. The tournament was conducted in three categories — senior, junior and sub-junior in recurve and compound. Eighty-seven archers competed in this event.

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