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Hitting the bullseye

The unassuming girl from Warangal is the big Olympic hope



Pranita Vardhineni

The archer from obscure Parvatagiri Mandal in Warangal in Andhra Pradesh has redefined the levels of excellence an athlete can achieve amidst adversity. For the 18-year-old, Pranita Vardhineni, a farmer’s daughter is going to represent India in next month’s Beijing Olympics.

Way to the top

For someone who had a chance encounter with a bow and arrow during her early days in the Khalleda School, run by Rural Development Foundation of Y. Ram Mohan Rao, Pranita has been quietly performing her way to the top.

This Intermediate second year student seemed destined to be a quality archer ever since she was first spotted by Prabhir Das, a three-time national champion from Bengal, who was hired by the School management to train the budding archers on the school premises with not-so-impressive equipment to start with. But once Pranita picked the bronze in the 2004 Sub-junior nationals and then made the giant strides in the 2006 Mexico World Cup to be the first Indian woman archer to pick a silver, there was no looking back for the archer.

It is a tribute to the dedication of the coach, who shifted his family to Khalleda School to handle his job, and to Pranita for persisting with archery despite all odds.

After joining the Tata Archery Academy in Jamshedpur, the career-graph of Pranita was on the ascendant for obvious reasons – international exposure.

“Frankly, I never expected to qualify this time around for Olympics for I felt I am too young and inexperienced,” she says. “Anyhow, this is the ultimate I could have visualised ever since I developed interest watching the others train archery in Khalleda School about six years ago,” says Pranita in the typical Telangana accent.

Well, she is obviously in the mood to let the arrows speak rather than her language.

Purnima Mahatao, six-gold winner in the Pune National Games and now coach at Tata Academy, believes that Pranita has the potential to pull off a surprise in the Beijing Games.

“She may lack experience but not on confidence,” she insists.

For her part, Pranita confesses that the Games will be of a different kind where the pressure and the expectations should be on a different plane.

“All that I am hoping is to keep my cool, stay focused and give off my best,” the modest archer points out about her chances.

V. V. S

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