Image Credits: KIUG
Prathana Solanki is a farmer’s daughter who harboured dreams of joining the Indian Army. But when her folks didn’t seem too enthused, she took up archery and promptly clinched the gold at the All-India University Games last year.
On Wednesday, here at the Khelo India University Games, she took another big step in her journey towards success in her new-found love, clinching a silver medal and even dreaming of the Olympic Games.
“I could not serve the country by joining the army. But now I want to make India proud by taking part in the Olympics and eventually winning a medal,” Prathana declared.
The Panjab University (Chandigarh) lass must be taken seriously. In just one year, she has improved enough to be among the country’s top archers in her age category.
Barely 21, she put up a grand fight in the women's recurve individual event, easing her way into the finals at the KIUG. Up against much-fancied Priyanka Thakran from Maharshi Dayanand University, she came up with a calm and commanding performance to take the contest into a one-arrow tie-breaker.
Prathana faltered only at that stage, to miss the gold by the proverbial whisker.
"I played well in the finals too, matching my opponent in each of the sets. I took it till the tie-breaker shot which didn’t go my way," a slightly disappointed Prathana said.
She was quick to appreciate the support that she received from her family though, helping her carve out a successful career in archery.
"My father is a farmer and my mother is a homemaker. They have provided me all the equipment that I needed, whatever it took him. He has given me everything to move forward in my sport, pumping in all his hard-earned money. My parents have never let me face any difficulty and have always supported me in whatever I do," Prathana revealed.
With a Khelo India medal under her belt, she will now shift her focus to the senior nationals, her first shot at a national-level tournament.
"I started learning archery just last year. I won gold at the Inter-University competition last year in Bhubaneswar itself. Now, my focus is on winning a medal at the senior nationals this year. And then look beyond, at the Olympics," the Panjab University athlete added.