Not long ago, V. Jyothi Surekha, the archer who made the entire country proud with a rare hat-trick of gold medals in the ongoing Asian Games in Hangzhou (China), thought of even quitting the sport, apparently disheartened at not getting the kind of recognition she felt she was due.
But, thanks to her parents – V. Surendra Kumar and mother Sri Durga, Surekha decided to have another go in the circuit this year, including the Asian Games and make a point, if needed, to all the critics.
For the record, World No. 4 Surekha, an engineering and MBA graduate, won team gold and individual bronze in the World Championship and individual gold and mixed team gold in World Cup Stage I this year.
“Yes, she was terribly disappointed when she didn’t get the Rajiv Khel Ratna Award despite being a strong contender for two consecutive years,” her father said. “There is no doubt; we are thankful to the Sports Authority of India for the excellent support system for her training and exposure,” he said.
But, by all means, it has been a truly remarkable journey which began at the Indira Gandhi Municipal Stadium (Vijayawada) when she was just 12 under the tutelage of Rama Rao of Railways.
“She was into swimming first. But we thought she might not make it big in the sport, so we shifted her to archery. Shooting was also an option then,” recalled the proud father, Surendra.
And at 15, Surekha represented India in the Asian championship and won a bronze medal
Like all those parents hailing from traditional families, it was never easy for them to let Surekha pursue her passion, and there was never a moment when she was discouraged for any reason.
“Once we put her in the sport, Surekha just didn’t bother about anything else. It was just archery and nothing else,” the father said.
A visibly elated mother, Sri Durga, said her daughter left home for the national camp en route to Asiad gently reminding her that she would be targeting a hat-trick of gold.
“Aiming such a feat is one thing and achieving is something else. I am really proud of my daughter for obvious reasons. Her strength has always been to stay focussed,” Sri Durga said.
Andhra Pradesh Government would be presenting Rs 30 lakhs for each gold Surekha won as per the existing sports policy even as some states like Haryana are giving Rs 3 crores for similar performances.
But for now, the jubilant Surekha parents are in the mood to bask in the glory of what has been a stunning feat by the archer in the Asian Games after their daily ritual of offering prayers at the three temples in Vijayawada of Lord Vigneswara, Anjaneya Swamy and Laxminarasimha.