An Exclusive Rendezvous With Odisha Archery Team Stars!


With the state finishing eight in the 37th National Sub-Junior Archery Championship this time, MCL catches up with team members Rajesh Darua and Golap Naik to explore their journey!

The atmosphere at Kalinga Stadium was charged when Odisha archery team clinched two medals, one gold and one bronze in team events, on the last day of 37th National Sub-Junior Archery Championship which was held in the city from March 17-21. Hosts Odisha, last year’s champion, managed the eighth position this time, with one gold and two bronze medals.

While a bronze medal was bagged by Rajesh Durua in boys’ 20 metre individual event on the first day, on the concluding day, the boys’ team comprising Rajesh Durua, Surendra Murmu, Jitrai Ho and Suryakanta Karjimajhi earned a gold medal in the Indian round. Similarly, the girls’ team which included Golap Naik, Champa Hanhaga, Sakuntala Sabar and Salge Soren won a bronze in the Indian round. 

Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) emerged the overall champion with a medal tally of 11 (five gold, five silver and one bronze), while Jharkhand finished second with 15 medals including four gold, three silver and eight bronze. The third place was bagged by Haryana with eight medals including four gold, three silver and a bronze. SC & ST Development Minister Lal Bihari Himirika handed over the medals to the winners. 

Talking to MCL, archery coach of SAI hostel, Sundargarh, Ashok Ghosh, said, “This year, some players weren’t able to manage the pressure of playing on the home ground. That is why we could win many medals this time. Otherwise, the overall performances have been quite good. The government has been providing the right kind of equipment and a proper diet for the players. So there are no such bottlenecks. We will help them improve their performances in future.” 

“We are basically giving technical training to the players. But they also want a mental training session. When they go for tournaments, they generally attend a mental training session of 30 minutes daily till the matches are over. But such sessions should be given more often. Mental training boosts mental strength and confidence, thus helping the players perform better to win more medals,” he further added.

Meanwhile, My City Links caught up with two of the star players of Odisha archery team to know more about their journey and association with the game. 

Rajesh Durua

When Rajesh was just 11 years old, he stepped into the world of archery and hasn’t looked back since then. Rajesh belongs to a tribal family of Malkangiri. Both his father and brother are into farming. But Rajesh expressed his interest in archery and his family agreed to support him. He was selected to practice and stay in SAI sports hostel at Sundargarh. And since 2012, he has been getting training at the hostel and has attended many tournaments. 

In the sub-juinor championship, Rajesh won a gold with three other members in the team event and a bronze in the individual event in boys’ 20 metre category in the Indian round.

On being asked why he chose a game like archery, Rajesh explained, “I belong to a tribal community, and our ancestors have been expert in hunting animals using bow and arrow, and hence it is in my blood. Also I had seen archery games on TV and got hooked to the game. That is why I enrolled into SAI.” 

Talking about the difficulties related to the game, Rajesh informed, “The only difficulty I have faced so far is when I started practicing. During those days, the string of the bow used to hit my hand and that was painful. But now it doesn’t bother.” 

The daily practice schedule of Rajesh involves two sessions, one in the morning from 6 am to 12 pm and in the other in the afternoon from 3 pm to 6.30 pm. But on school days, the practice gets restricted to two hours each for both the sessions. However, Rajesh is determined to represent his nation at international platforms in future. “That is my ultimate goal,” he signed off. 

Golap Naik

“I have been staying at the SAI hostel since 2014. I belong to Keonjhar and it was during my school days that I got interested in archery. I started practicing when I was in Class VIII. At my school, there once happened a camp in which I performed well and got selected to be trained in SAI. Now, I am in the first year of my graduation (BA) at Vesaja Patel Junior college, Duduka, Hemgir, Sundargarh,” said 16-year-old Golap Naik, recalling her journey with archery. 

Golap has quite a large family with seven sisters and a young brother besides her parents. Her father works in the mines. According to Golap, her source of inspiration has been the encouragement from both her coaches at the SAI hostel, Ashok T Ghosh and Teklal Poore. “My coaches help me understand the different techniques of archery. Both of them are extremely motivating. They cheer me up and give the right boost that is required at the right time,” she informed.

Sharing her daily fitness regime, Golap said, “When I was new to SAI, it was very difficult for me to do pushups, but now as I am accustomed to it, I can do 50 at a stretch and around 500 pushups a day. That apart, running and exercising along with memorising techniques of the game and applying them practically are included in my daily schedule.”

Golap has represented Odisha in many tournaments that have taken place in Guwahati, Rohtak, Indore, Ranchi and other cities outside the state. In the sub-junior championship, she clinched a bronze medal in the team event with three others in the Indian round. Before getting into archery, she used to play kabaddi and kho kho. But her dream today is to qualify for Olympic Games and play for India and also become a renowned face in archery at an International level.