Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDB) – The support behind para-archer Sheetal Devi

Anshul Garg, CEO of SMVDB, explains how the board went beyond pilgrimage management to achieve excellence in the field of sports.

Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“Rakesh Kumar [behind Sheetal] was the first para-archer we groomed. He represented India at the Tokyo Olympics, and this motivated a lot of people to take up the sport in the region. And Sheetal was one of them,” said Anshul at the Sportstar Aces Awards 2024.

Photo Credit: AFP

SMVD won the Chairperson’s Choice — Sport for Social Good Award at the Sportstar Aces Awards 2024. Here, Anshul is accepting the award from Nirmala Lakshman, Chairperson, The Hindu Group Publishing Private Limited.

Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

SMVDB had another big reason to cheer. It’s greatest student, Sheetal Devi, won the Sportstar of the Year (Female) award at the Aces Awards 2024.

Photo Credit: K. R. Deepak

The 16-year-old, who hails from Kishtwar, Jammu and Kashmir, was born with phocomelia, a disorder causing underdeveloped limbs. Without arms, she learned to use a bow and arrow with her feet and started training fulltime only a couple of years ago.

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She had a remarkable run in 2023, the biggest highlight being winning three medals at the Asian Para Games. This achievement was adjudged Moment of the Year at the Sportstar Aces Awards 2024.

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“With the kind of energy that she (Sheetal) carries, she is not scared of competition. For a girl of just 17, to perform at the national level itself is a huge deal. But going to the Asian Games, and winning the gold medal, is something worth celebrating,” said Anshul Garg.

Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Sheetal Devi now has her focus set on the Paris Paralympic Games this year, for which she qualified after winning the silver medal at the World Archery Para Championships, 2023.

Photo Credit: Special Arrangement