Girl who refused to bow before ordeals

Archer from Bengal shines

By Debraj Mitra
  • Published 30.12.17

Salt Lake: An archer once hailed as a child prodigy but forced to move out of Bengal for want of opportunities was part of the Indian women's trio that struck gold in last month's Asian Championship in Dhaka.

Trisha Deb, 26, has seen several ups and downs in her 17-year-old career. Daughter of an errand runner and a tuition teacher, Trina's first sophisticated bow came in 2004 as part of a scheme for budding players.

Her journey began at the Baranagar Archery Club, the cradle of such archers as Banerjee siblings Dola and Rahul. "The club is right next to my maternal grandparents' home, where my mother would leave me when she went to give private tuitions," Trisha told Metro.

The first laurel came in 2004 when Trisha won gold in the sub-junior national championships in Delhi. An encore followed in Ajmer the next year. It was her bronze in the senior nationals at age 14 that turned heads.

But Trisha's performance graph took a sudden plunge thereon. "Archery is an expensive sport. A standard bow needs refurbishment every couple of years. My parents tried their best but it was too much for them," she said.

Trisha had applied for admission to the famed Tata Archery Academy, Jamshedpur, in 2006 but was rejected because of her height.

The next few years were the worst in Trisha's career. "I was not even selected for the nationals from the state. I was shattered mentally," she said.

Fortune smiled on Trisha in the form of a residential programme for archers at Punjabi University, Patiala, in 2011. Her mother was jittery about letting her shift base but Trisha was determined not to give up sports.

In Patiala, Trisha met Jiwanjot Singh Teja, a coach at Punjabi University. Teja advised her to shift to compound archery from recurve because of her short height.

A recurve bow gets its name from reverse curves at the end. Compound bows, on the other hand, use a pulley system that takes strain off of the bow, making it easier to shoot.

A year later, Trisha won the All-India Inter-University Archery Championship and in 2013 she made it to the Indian team for compound archery.

Trisha was part of the Indian team that won bronze at the World Cup in 2013 in Shanghai. Her best came the year after with a bronze in the compound women's individual event at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. It also bagged her a railway job.

Now the sole earning member of her family after her father's death last year, Trisha refuses to give up her passion.

Her reward came when she, along with Parveena and Jyothi Surekha, won gold in Dhaka by beating the team from Korea. She was on the verge of tears when she heard the national anthem playing as she took the podium.

"I am not growing younger. But I am in good shape and want to carry on as long as I can," said Trisha, who has set her sights on the Asian Games 2018, to be held in Jakarta.