“ Yeh toh meri jaan hai,” says Badri Vishal Sharma, flashing an infectious smile after his daughter's exploits. Nineteen-year-old Kritika, Sharma's fourth daughter, made hay on a surprisingly rainy day in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday as she clinched gold in the women's compound archery event and pocketed silver medals in the team and mixed events in the ongoing Khelo India University Games.
Archery runs in the Sharma family - Kritika's younger sister, Prerna, had impressed in the junior circuit and was chosen for the Khelo India Scheme. “Back in Ajmer, Kritika and Prerna are known as Geeta-Babita!” Sharma proudly says, likening his daughters to the celebrated Phogat sisters.
Kritika's journey as an archer had two turning points. The first was when she made the shift from using a bamboo bow to a synthetic one and the second came when she switched from recurve to compound - two different disciplines of archery. “I participated in recurve for close to two years and was ranked fifth. But the style did not suit me and I made the switch to compound,” she says.
The switch also meant her father had to shell out big money for an equipment upgrade. “Initially, we did not know the equipment was so expensive. But as she began to do better I did not want to back down and I had to get her an upgrade. Along with my wife and help from our friends, we raised funds. Each bow costs around 3 and a half lakh and we spend around 8 lakh each year,” says Sharma, an assistant accounts officer with the Rajasthan government.
And Sharma, who was a district-level volleyball player, also doubles up as her coach. He travels with her full-time and goes to the extent of sacrificing his paid leaves to accompany her on trips. But he's not one to complain, "I've seen half of India thanks to my daughters," he says amidst laughs.
When she's not on the field, Kritika, who represents Rajasthan University, particularly enjoys reading politics and history, while she also binges on the rare sports-themed Bollywood movie (Dangal is her favourite!) or “south Indian comedy-horror movies,” by her own admission.
With three medals in her kitty, she's now looking forward to a little bit of sight-seeing before the Archery World Cup trials to be held in Sonepat from February 29. “We've heard a lot about Puri and are looking forward to going there before we leave for the World Cup trials,” she says.
Sharma quickly chips in: “I want her to go ahead, sir. She will bring glory to the country – mark my words.”
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