Preeti Kongara faced arguably the worst tragedy - losing her father - about a decade ago. Her mother, K. Vijayalakshmi, continues to be a housekeeper to be the solitary, earning family member.
But, the young sailor left that behind and pursued sailing under the mentorship of Suheim Sheikh, president of Yacht Club of Hyderabad, as part of Naandi Foundation project and now can look back with a sense of pride being the only girl from Telangana to make it to the Asian Games in the 470 mixed dingy category.
“Definitely, I feel proud that I am representing my country and I am also confident,” the 19-year-old Preeti, a student of Government Junior College in Marredpally here.
“The preparations have been really good as we have been to three countries - The Netherlands, France and The Hague. The conditions were medium and above 15 knots. Well, for the Asiad, we are going early to get acclimatised to the conditions,” she said.
With the equipment, with which she has been training, already sent to the Asian Games venue thanks to the Indian Navy and YAI, Preeti hopes to make it big.
“For me the biggest strength is my coach Suehim Sir. But for him, I would not be in this position. He is like a father-figure to me,” said the young sailor who revealed that she loved to be in the water and enjoying the waves.
“This sport is so different and that is the reason why I got fascinated,” Preeti said.
“It would be great if I can win a medal in the Asian Games ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics qualification cycle. My big goals include the 2026 Asiad and the 2028 Olympics. Not easy for sure but with my coach backing me all out, I can make it. He is the one who keeps motivating me every day,” said the confident sailor.
For his part, Suheim, who started training her when she was very young under Project Nanhi Kali, was all praise for Preeti’s focus.
“Her ability to sail close to the winds is truly amazing. In fact, in favourable conditions, she is a champion. And, not surprisingly finished 12th in one race in the recent Worlds in The Netherlands and also seventh in a race at the Olympic Test event in Marseilles (France) against the best teams, a very respectable feat,” he said.
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