Defying odds: Meet Sheetal Devi, world’s first armless archer who won gold at Asian Para Games

Defying odds: Meet Sheetal Devi, world’s first armless archer who won gold at Asian Para Games

Sheetal Devi, a 16-year-old girl from Kishtwar district, has emerged as a beacon of inspiration by clinching a gold medal in the compound open archery event at the Asian Para Games held in China last week.

Despite being born without arms, Devi’s determination and grit led her to victory, making her a source of pride for her community and the entire nation.

Sheetal, an 11th-grade student hailing from the remote Lohidar area in Kishtwar, showcased unparalleled talent. Teaming up with Rakesh Kumar, she made history by securing the gold medal, breaking not just physical barriers but also shattering stereotypes surrounding disabilities.

In an exclusive interview with the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), Sheetal Devi expressed her dreams of representing India in the Paralympics and other international events. She said that winning medals provides recognition and fuels her determination to excel further in her chosen field.

Overcoming challenges with a prosthetic arm, Sheetal drew inspiration from American para-athlete Mat Stutzman's techniques. Her coaches adapted her bow, enabling her to release arrows using her chin and mouth. Devi’s hard work paid off, leading her to victories at both national and international levels.

Speaking to KNO, Sheetal's father said his daughter faced numerous obstacles but never lost hope. “In 2019, her talent caught the attention of the Army during an event, leading to vital medical assistance and educational support. Since then, Sheetal has excelled at various state-level competitions and even secured a silver medal at the Para-Archery World Championship in the Czech Republic in July this year,” he said.

Sheetal's extraordinary performance in China has earned her widespread congratulations, making her a symbol of determination and triumph over adversity

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