The 24-year-old became the first Indian to win an individual medal at the World Para Archery Championships.

Archery has been a lifelong passion for Pooja Jatyan. And to pursue her passion, Jatyan returned from a four-year sabbatical only to win her first international medal – silver at the Dubai 2022 World Archery Para Championships.

In doing so, the 24-year-old from Gurguram also became the first ever Indian para-archer to win an individual medal at a World Championships. Jatyan lost to Italy’s Paralympic silver medallist Petrilli Vincenza, who bounced back to win 7-3 in the women’s recurve open finals at Dubai 2022.

“I tried many things – studies, business – but archery is above everything. This is something I cannot leave behind. My life would be incomplete without Archery. So, I decided to return to the sport and follow my dream,” Jatyan told the Paralympic Committee of India in an interview.

“After returning to the sport in 2018, I lost many medals by narrow margins and didn’t get selected in various championships. It pinched me a lot. I wasn’t ready to take that result so I worked hard to reach here today.

“And I worked really, really hard for the Dubai 2022 Championships. And after the silver, I want to win the gold,” said the recurve archer, who was affected by polio at an early age.

With no knowledge of Para archery, Pooja Jatyan competed in abled body archery after taking up the sport in 2011.

“I took part in abled body competitions, including the Nationals and even won medals there. I didn’t know about Para archery then. But I had to take a break from it after I got married,” she said.

Harvinder’s APG 2018 gold, an inspiration

The Dubai 2022 Worlds was Jatyan’s third major championships after the Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games and ‘s-Hertogenbosch 2019 World Championships.

Her first big event since her return was the Indonesia 2018 APG, when she also started training with her current coach Surender Singh Randhawa at Punjab University in Patiala.

“Harry (Harvinder Singh) bhaiya’s gold at the Indonesia 2018 Games was a big inspiration for me. I wanted to win medals for my country but I wasn’t good enough then. And I promised to myself then, that I am going to win medals for my country.  

“My coach always tells me ‘hard work pays off’. So, my only objective was to work hard to win medals,” said Pooja Jatyan who has her eyes on the Hangzhou 2022 APG gold next.

‘Hope my medal motivate more girls to take up Para Archery’

Despite coming from a patriarchal society, Jatyan had the support from her in-laws in Rohtak especially from her husband and mother-in-law.

“Returning to the sport was a big decision but my family, especially my husband and my mother-in-law supported me a lot. It’s kind of rare and I feel I am very lucky to have them by my side. They are very proud of me.”

She also hoped that her medal would inspire many women to take up Para Archery in the country, which currently boasts only three women international para-archers. “Medals like this one will inspire many more women. I hope we have more women in our team in the coming time,” added Jatyan who is studying MCom from Khalsa College, Punjab University.

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