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At 38, Jhano lets her arrows do the talking

While all eyes were glued to Deepika Kumari and her arrows, a woman almost two decades older quietly went about scripting a success story of her own with her shooting precision and the ability to inspire young talents at the 34th Senior National Archery Championship.

Meet Jhano Hansda (38), a compound archer from Ranidih on Jamshedpur’s outskirts, who is hailed as the “nanny” of archery because of the long years she spent in the game and mentoring capabilities.

A shining example of longevity in women’s archery, the modest and unassuming tribal archer won hearts at the recently concluded national meet at the greens of JRD Tata Sports Complex with her ability to withstand pressure in crunch situations.

“Jhano di is like a nanny to us. She’s so focussed on her job. I am really impressed and have drawn a lot of inspiration from her,” said Swati Dudhwa, a 21-year-old compound archer from Rajasthan.

Jamshedpur’s Sudhakar Paswan (20), who paired up with Jhano to claim the recurve mixed event gold, was all praises too.

“Jhano is incredible. She’s the best thing to happen in the compound circuit. That she’s still carrying on and pocketing medals is a huge inspiration for a young archer like me,” Paswan added.

Punjab’s Ramandeep Kaur (24), who lost the women’s compound individual final to Jhano, lauded the veteran archer’s composure in difficult situations during the title clash. “Jhano di remained cool even after I scored good points. Others usually become nervous in such circumstances. I lost to a better opponent,” said Ramandeep, who lost 132-137 to Jhano.

The highly experienced archer, who is a sub-inspector with Jharkhand Police, was her usual humble self when The Telegraph caught up with her soon after the summit clash.

Khush hoon aur kya kahun. Nishana theek laga (I am happy, what more can I say. I shot well),” Jhano smiled.

Jhano’s patience, perseverance and modesty perhaps stem from her days of struggle early in career.

It was around 1996 that Jhano entered recurve archery. She used to regularly pedal over 15km to reach JRD Tata Sports Complex for practice, but failed to make a mark in recurve division. She then switched over to compound archery in 2004 and mastered the new form just like a fish takes to water.

There was no looking back since then.

Jhano beat the world record of Jamie Van Natta (US) in compound section by scoring 1,405 points in final selection trials for the national squad in 2006. She claimed bronze in Asian Circuit Championship in Vietnam in November 2004 and pocketed silver at the same meet in Bangkok in February 2005.

Her other accolades include a gold in the Asian Championship in Delhi in 2005 and a silver in the World Cup in June 2006. She also slotted home team silver in World Cup in Croatia in 2006.

A spinster, Jhano has no plans to hang up her bows. Instead, she wants to groom young archers of Jharkhand.

“Several archers come to me for tips. I ask them to do yoga and meditation. Archery is all about mind. The more you remain focussed, the more you gain,” she said.

As for her own battle and climb up the ladder, she also attributed it to a strong mind. “I think remaining strong in the mind all these years helped me to win medals at this age,” Jhano signed off.