KIYG champion Sakshi Shitole aims to compete in Tokyo Olympic Games

Sakshi Shitole has the Olympic Games in her sights
Sakshi Shitole has the Olympic Games in her sights

Sakshi Shitole broke into a knowing smile.

“Before that there is the Olympic Games next year,” the Khelo India Youth Games girls under-21 recurve archery gold medal winner reminded the journalist who asked her if she had overcome the disappointment of missing out on the Asian Games in Jakarta last year and if she was aiming for the Hangzhou Games in 2022.

The 18-year-old, who traces her roots to Padwi taluk in Daund district of Maharashtra but has now based herself in Pune to realise her dreams, was a picture of composure from her first shot to the last that confirmed her a 6-0 winner over West Bengal’s Suparna Singh, who was left seeking her consistent form from the first two days that installed her favourite for the title.

“I was focussed on sticking to the routine and playing the same shot each time. The focus was not on the score or on winning set and match,” Sakshi Shitole, who has represented India in the Asia Cup competitions last year, said.  “I finished outside the top four in qualification. I was disappointed with my score of 623. For I know I am capable of better.”

She beat team-mate Bhagyashri Namdev Kolte (Maharashtra) 6-2 in the quarterfinals. Bhagyashri was riding high on confidence after defeating Jharkhand’s Ankita Bhakat, who represented India in the Asian Games, in the first round. She then defeated Riya Tewatia (Haryana) 6-2 in the semifinals to set up a meeting with the consistent Suparna Singh (West Bengal) in the final.

She appeared for the 12th Standard Board examination between the Asia Cup Stage I which ended in Bangkok on March 9 and the Asian Games trials in Jamshedpur from March 15. Quite inevitably, she was undercooked and did not make the cut when the selectors picked the top eight archers from the first selection trials in Jamshedpur in March 2018.

To be sure, she had done well to score 1261 points in four rounds of shooting and earned a slot in the 12-woman round robin competition, but she then finished 11th there, winning only three of her 11 matches. The Asian Games dream did not come true, disappointing her. A journalist reminded her that she could target the next Asian Games.

“Before that, there is the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year,” she said, making her intentions and her vision clear. It is such sharp focus that speaks volumes about the single-mindedness of today’s youth. They want to challenge the best in India and be ready to compete with the world’s finest without an iota of doubt in their countenance.

She said she knew then that once the examinations were got out of the way, her primary focus would be to make it to the Olympic Games.  She has now rented an apartment to be close to training centre, the Archers Academy in Shahu College, Parvati Paytha in Pune. “I am determined to not only qualify for the Olympics but also do well there,” she said.

Her first step would be to perform consistently in the five-day trials in Rohtak where the top 16 archers would be shortlisted as probables for the World Championship 2019 and the World Cups 2019. It will be a confirmation that she can walk the talk and deliver performances that will keep her in the race for Olympic Games berths.

About Rajaraman 453 Articles
Born on March 10, 1961 in Hyderabad, I wanted to be an electronics engineer but my focus on cricket and basketball at school and junior college meant that I missed qualifying from the entrance examination. I led the School and Junior College basketball teams. I then decided he would be sports a journalist like my father, Mr N Ganesan. While I graduated in commerce from the Badruka College of Arts and Commerce, I also spent more time in sports, representing Andhra Pradesh in the National Basketball Championship in 1980 and Osmania University in 1981-82. I joined the 1981-82 batch of Osmania Univeristy's Bachelor in Communication and Journalism. I missed the gold medal by 0.6 per cent and was pursuing the Masters' degree when The Hindu offered me a job as Sub-Editor in Madras. I took up The Hindu assignment on March 17, 1983. Though my job entailed editing functions only, I got to cover the annual Sholavaram motor racing grands prix in 1985 and 1986 and the Himalayan Rally in 1985 when my photographs also found expression in The Sportstar. I left The Hindu in November 1986 to join Press Trust of India as Sports Reporter in Hyderabad. I was called to New Delhi to report on the World Table Tennis Championship in March 1987. I covered a variety of events, including the SAF Games in Calcutta in 1987 and Islamabad in 1989. I ventured to Delhi in July 1992 when I joined The Pioneer as a Senior Reporter/Sub-Editor (Sports). My cricket writing skills came to the fore when I was deputed to write on India's tour of Sri Lanka in July-August 1993. I was rewarded with a promotion as Deputy Sports Editor in 1995. The departure of the Sports Editor in January 1996 saw me hold charge. A good performance during the 1996 World Cup cricket and the Olympic Games in Atlanta - when The Pioneer brought out a four-page supplement every day saw me being confirmed as Sports Editor in August 1996. The Hindustan Times, Delhi's largest newspaper, appointed me as Associate Editor (Sports) in January 1997. I conceived and launched a weekly colour supplement, Sport during the World Cup football finals in 1998. I covered the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok and the 1999 World Cup cricket in England. I left the Hindustan Times on February 23, 2000 to take up position as Editor, on February 26 and can claim with pride that I played no mean role in building a good site that is rated among the best cricket news sites. Besides, a number of TV channels – NDTV, Star News, Doordarshan, CNBC, Zee News – and radio stations like BBC, SABC and ABC have invite me to in-studio discussions on cricket. In 2001, I authored a book, Match-fixing: The Enemy Within (Har Anand Publications). I joined as Senior Editor in June 2001 and worked for two years, helping it transform from a corporate website to a respected sports site and playing a role in driving the hugely popular online fantasy cricket game, Super Selector. I left the website to pursue life as a freelance writer and consultant, editing the Afro-Asian Games Observer in Hyderabad in October-November 2003 and helping the Board of Control for Cricket in India's Communication Committee. I joined the respected weekly magazine Outlook as Senior Special Correspondent in April 2005 and worked there till September 2007, with a story highlighting Sunil Gavaskar's minimal contribution to Indian cricket after his retirement being one of the best in my career. For a year, till Sept 30, 2008, I was Sports Editor, Samay, Sahara India's National news channel. I live in New Delhi with my wife Sudha and daughter Priya and after a short stint with and, I am now consultant with the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi (28° 40' 0 N, 77° 13' 0 E) lending my shoulder to the wheel that will make India a hugely popular sports destination.