Indian archer Sheetal Devi (X)
Sheetal Devi will represent Jammu & Kashmir in the upcoming Khelo India Para Games scheduled to begin on 10th December in New Delhi.
The first ever Khelo India- Para Games will kick off on 10th December, 2023, marking the debut of the country’s para stars in the prestigious event. Sheetal Devi, the first female armless-archer, is set to captivate the nation as one of the many stars on display.
Having won double gold at the 4th Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, China, and followed it up with two team event gold and an individual bronze at the Asian Para Championship in Bangkok, Thailand, Sheetal has already secured a quota to represent India at the 2024 Paris Paralympics. Now, she aims to win more medals, this time for Jammu and Kashmir.
Originally from Loidhar village in Kishtwar, Jammu & Kashmir, Sheetal was born with Phocomelia, a condition that resulted in under-developed limbs. With sheer determination and talent, she has become a household name in India, capturing the hearts and imagination of people.
Despite her condition, Sheetal excelled in using her legs for tasks that normal kids would do with their hands. “I loved going to school. In fact, I always wanted to become a teacher as they command so much respect from society. When the teacher used to give us work, I used to write with my leg. I don’t exactly remember how I did it. Maybe, I had no other option but to use my legs in ways that others couldn’t imagine,” says Sheetal, reminiscing about her early days.
As the Khelo India Para Games approach, Sheetal Devi stands as an inspiration, challenging preconceived notions of ability and redefining the boundaries of what can be achieved.
“I just started archery two years ago, but I had heard a lot about Khelo India games. I was curious as to when Para Sports would be included in the Khelo India program, and now we have this golden opportunity. I want to win as many medals as possible for Jammu. It would be a different feeling competing with your close friends,” says Sheetal with a grin on her face.
Sheetal Devi’s journey is a reminder that the playing field is vast and inclusive, welcoming individuals of all abilities to showcase their talents and pursue their dreams. As she steps onto the archery range in New Delhi, Sheetal carries not only her own aspirations but also the hopes of countless others who see in her a symbol of courage and possibility.