Sheetal Devi: A Beacon of Inspiration at the Asian Para Games 2023

Sheetal Devi
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In a world filled with remarkable stories of courage and determination, the tale of Sheetal Devi, a 16-year-old para-athlete hailing from Jammu & Kashmir, stands out as a beacon of inspiration. Sheetal’s journey, marked by her extraordinary achievements in archery at the Asian Para Games 2023, is a testament to her unwavering spirit and unyielding resolve. This article delves into the remarkable life of Sheetal Devi, who, despite being born with Phocomelia, defied all odds to become an archery sensation.

A Challenging Beginning

Sheetal Devi

Sheetal Devi’s story commences in the picturesque village of Loidhar in Jammu & Kashmir. Born with Phocomelia, a rare congenital condition leading to the underdevelopment of limbs and potential sensory organ impairments, Sheetal faced a life filled with formidable challenges from the very start. However, it is these early challenges that laid the foundation for her extraordinary journey.

A Rising Star

In the world of sports, there are moments when exceptional talents emerge, capturing the hearts of millions. The Asian Para Games 2023 bore witness to such an extraordinary talent. Sheetal Devi, a 16-year-old para-athlete, took center stage, leaving an indelible mark in the annals of para-sports.

Conquering the Asian Para Games

The Asian Para Games, held in Hangzhou, China in 2023, provided the stage for incredible human determination and sporting excellence. Here, Sheetal Devi accomplished a feat that many deemed impossible. She not only participated but secured two gold medals in the women’s open individual compound and mixed team compound events, along with a noteworthy silver in the women’s doubles compound event. Her performance was not just a personal victory but a triumph for the entire nation.

The Foundation of Fortitude

Sheetal’s journey began in the Kishtwar district of Jammu & Kashmir, in a small village where her father, Maan Singh, worked in the fields, and her mother tended to their goats. The unwavering support of her family would later become the cornerstone of her success.

A Helping Hand from the Indian Army

In her pursuit of becoming an archer, Sheetal Devi found an unexpected ally in the Indian Army. The turning point came in 2019 when she attended a youth event in Kishtwar, and her exceptional talent caught the attention of the Indian Army’s Rashtriya Rifles unit.

Adapting to Archery

The challenges posed by Phocomelia did not deter Sheetal. Under the guidance of coaches Abhilasha Chaudhary and Kuldeep Vedwan, who had never trained an archer without arms, she began her training at the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board Sports Complex in Katra in 2022. Inspired by the achievements of Matt Stutzman, the silver medalist at the 2012 London Paralympics who used his legs for archery, Sheetal’s coaches adapted his style to suit her unique needs.

Mastering a Unique Technique

Sheetal’s archery technique is awe-inspiring. Seated in a chair, she uses her right leg to raise the bow and pulls the string back with her right shoulder, aided by a modified shoulder releaser designed for the chin and mouth. Her precision in aiming and hitting the bull’s eye using her chin and toes is a testament to her unwavering dedication and relentless practice.

Overcoming Initial Hurdles

The journey was far from easy. As Sheetal herself recollects, “Initially, I could not even lift the bow properly.” However, her tenacity and months of rigorous practice gradually transformed those challenges into stepping stones towards excellence.

A National Pride

Sheetal’s achievements extend beyond personal glory. She eloquently expressed, “These medals prove that I am special. These medals are not just mine, but of the whole country.” In a recent interview with NDTV, she reminisced about her early days in archery, recalling how she skillfully released arrows using her foot and crafted wooden bows. Sheetal’s ambition extends beyond her individual success; she aspires to compete with athletes worldwide and win medals in every tournament.

An Inspirational Message

Sheetal’s journey carries a profound message for aspirants and individuals facing adversity. “No one lacks anything; you just need a bit of hard work to make it,” she asserts. Her confidence and determination serve as a reminder that resilience and dedication can conquer any obstacle.

Support from the Indian Army

The Indian Army’s support has been instrumental in Sheetal’s journey. Beyond recognition, they provided crucial assistance in education and medical care. Her association with the Indian Army commenced in 2019 and has since played a pivotal role in her transformation into a para-archery sensation.

The Power of the Human Spirit

Sheetal Devi’s story exemplifies the strength of the human spirit. Her journey began in a small village in Kishtwar, Jammu & Kashmir, but her remarkable performance at the Para Asian Games 2023 is just the opening chapter of a journey filled with promise and hope.

Historic Achievements at the Asian Para Games

The Asian Para Games in 2023 marked a historic chapter in India’s para-athletics. The nation secured fifth place, with a total of 111 medals, including 29 gold, 31 silver, and 51 bronze. These records signify a new era in para-sports, and the future holds even more promise.

Awaiting the Next Challenge

Astitwam applauds Sheetal’s indomitable spirit and extends its congratulations to all the athletes who represented India. As we look forward to the next Asian Para Games in 2026, we anticipate more medals and global recognition.


In conclusion, Sheetal Devi’s journey is not just a sporting triumph but a remarkable saga of human determination and spirit that conquers all odds. Her story teaches us that with hard work and unwavering dedication, one can achieve their dreams, no matter how insurmountable the challenges may seem.


Q1: What is Phocomelia, the congenital condition Sheetal Devi has?

Phocomelia is a rare congenital condition characterized by the underdevelopment of limbs, primarily affecting the arms and legs. It may also affect other sensory organs.

Q2: How did Sheetal Devi adapt her archery technique to overcome her physical challenges?

Sheetal Devi uses her right leg to raise the bow and utilizes a modified shoulder releaser designed for the chin and mouth to pull the string back, allowing her to aim and shoot with precision using her chin and toes.

Q3: What were Sheetal Devi’s achievements at the Asian Para Games 2023?

Sheetal Devi achieved two gold medals in the women’s open individual compound and mixed team compound events, along with a silver in the women’s doubles compound event at the Asian Para Games 2023.

Q4: How did the Indian Army support Sheetal Devi in her journey?

The Indian Army recognized Sheetal Devi’s talent and provided support in terms of education and medical assistance, playing a pivotal role in her transformation into a para-archery sensation.

Q5: What message does Sheetal Devi convey to aspiring individuals?

Sheetal Devi’s message is one of inspiration and determination. She emphasizes that with hard work and dedication, anyone can overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

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