After Fighting Off Poverty & Doubt, Archer Pravin Jadhav Heads to Tokyo
Pravin Jadhav bought his first archery kit from the government grant for participating in the World Cup in 2016.
While most of the focus in the archery event for India at the Tokyo Olympics will be around Deepika Kumari, Atanu Das and Tarandeep Rai, the men’s recurve squad also boasts of a young and talented Pravin Jadhav.
Currently 25 years old, Pravin was born into a family of daily wage earners in Satara district of Maharashtra. With limited resources across the board, Pravin’s life was set to be one of struggle and hardships.
However, in 2019, he was handed a seat on a flight to the sporting world’s most prestigious event – The Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“My family’s financial condition is not good and I was aware that I would have to work as a labourer if I didn’t succeed (in archery), which is why I continued and worked hard. In the toughest times, my thinking used to be that after doing all the hard work to reach this stage I can’t let go and accept defeat, so I kept working hard towards my goals,” Pravin told PM Modi.
Pravin who teamed up with Atanu and Tarundeep secured silver in the final of the World Archery Championships seeing off sixth-seeded Canada to qualify for the knockout rounds, which helped them secure Olympic spot. The troika followed that up with ousting Chinese Taipei in the quarter-final, Netherlands in the semis and before settling for Bronze against China.
Where Did It All Begin?
For Pravin, one of the biggest hurdles for poverty in what was a drought affected village in Maharashtra and the lack of a schooling system didn’t help either. Pravin was keen on sports from the early days and his first bit of training would be in athletics at school. With help from his school teacher Vikas Bhujbal in terms of an improved diet and training, Pravin worked his way through the ranks after initial struggle, finally making it to the Krida Prabodhini School in Pune.
“Bhujbal sir took care of my diet and incurred all the expenses for my training. I remember him asking all the school children to bring one nutritious food item to school for me and the other athletes trying to make it to the Krida Prabodhini school. He used to feed me eight eggs every day along with chicken preparations. All the expenses were borne by him,” Jadhav was quoted as saying by Scroll.
After about 5 years of athletics where he ran the 800m event and participated a bit in long jump, a series of tests pointed to a better archer than a track and field athlete.
“My selection had been initially for athletics, but since my body was a little on the weaker side, I was asked try out with Archery and I have continued with is since,” Pravin told PM Modi.
Introduction to Archery
A difficult sport to master, most archers go through a tough time in the initial years as they come to terms with the rigours of the sport. Pravin kept at it and despite being weaker physically, he soldered on through pain and a flurry of bad results during the learning curve.
After the first year, disappointed about the results, the academy was all set to drop him before it was decided he would have one last go in a trial. The high-pressure situation tested the young man’s nerve and he responded with an emphatic performance.
From then on in, Pravin grabbed his second chance with both hands and in 2016 at the age of 19, representing India for the first time at the Asia Cup Stage 1. His first go saw him finish with a bronze medal. Later that year, he was part of Indian B team in the 2016 Archery World Cup stage in Medellín.
Once out of the academy, Pravin was able to buy his archery equipment from the government grant for participating athletes in the World Cup.
The year after, he joined the Indian army on the sports quota after being spotted Colonel Vikram Dhayal, coach of the Indian compound team at the 2016 World Cup. He is also now supported by Olympic Gold Quest, all of which have helped reduce the financial burdens.
Form Guide and Road to Tokyo
The least experienced of the four archers representing India at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Pravin is ranked 45 currently.
In 2021, participated at the Paris World Cup and made it to the 4th round before losing to England’s Patrick Huston 2-6, finishing 9th. He also went to the World Cup in Guatemala City in April, but was eliminated in the third round when he lost to Atanu.
For Pravin, it will not be an easy route to glory at Tokyo, but it is pressure and a determination to win that has kept him going.
(With inputs from Scroll.in)
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