Sheetal Devi: The Trailblazing Armless Archer Making History at the Asian Para Games with Silver and Gold
At just 16 years old, Sheetal Devi is etching her name in history at the Asian Para Games, showcasing unparalleled talent and bringing pride to India. Remarkably, Devi stands as the world’s first armless archer to grace this year’s games, achieving extraordinary feats in the women’s doubles event, where she secured a silver, and clinching a gold in the women’s compound open event. In a stunning display of skill, she shot six consecutive ten-rings in the final’s last two rounds.
Sheetal’s journey to the Asian Para Games 2023 stands as a testament to the power of determination and self-belief. Her triumphant victories not only resonate as a source of inspiration for millions of Indians but also serve as a beacon of hope for those who often hesitate to pursue their dreams, feeling they might fall short.
Former TV actor and Minister of Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani, took to Instagram to share Sheetal’s awe-inspiring story through a captivating video.
Sheetal Devi, diagnosed with phocomelia syndrome at birth—a rare congenital disorder leading to underdeveloped limbs—didn’t have an easy start. With unwavering family support, she has embraced life just like any other individual. Initially faced with the challenge of lifting a bow, she conquered it through relentless practice.
Hailing from Loidhar village in Kishtwar, Jammu and Kashmir, Sheetal, in her early years, idolized sports figures, wondering if she could embark on a similar path. Despite her physical condition, her upper body was deemed fit for archery and swimming.
Her journey into para-archery commenced at the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board Sports Complex in Katra, where coaches Abhilasha Chaudhary and Kuldeep Vedwa played instrumental roles. To accommodate her unique requirements, the regular arch releaser was transformed into a shoulder releaser.
In an interview with WION, coaches shared insights into Sheetal’s training regimen, highlighting her progression from throwing 50-100 arrows daily to an impressive 300. Her dedication bore fruit when she secured a silver medal at the Para Open Nationals.
In a heartwarming video shared by Smriti Irani, Sheetal offers a glimpse into her daily life—moments with family, playful interactions with her younger sibling, school camaraderie, and, finally, her training center, where she relentlessly pursues her dream of making it big in life. Her philosophy is clear: no one has any shortcomings.
Prime Minister Modi acknowledged Sheetal’s extraordinary achievement on his social media handle, praising her grit and determination. He wrote, “Proud of Sheetal Devi on her extraordinary Gold Medal in Archery Women’s Individual Compound open event at the Asian Para Games. This achievement is a testament to her grit and determination.”
As the Asian Para Games 2023 in Hangzhou, the People’s Republic Of China concludes, India basks in the glory of a total of 99 medals—25 gold, 29 silver, and 45 bronze. Sheetal Devi’s indomitable spirit and remarkable accomplishments stand as a shining example of overcoming adversities and achieving greatness.