Panchkula (Haryana) [India], June 13 (ANI): Like most children in Andhra Pradesh, Madala Surya Hamsini too was baptized in badminton.
But when she was 9, she happened to watch the blockbuster movie 'Bahubali'. Enamoured by Prabhas and his archery skills, she told her father that she was going to switch sports.
"The bow and arrow looked so good," she chirped, shortly after winning the individual bronze in the girl's compound archery.
It is this clarity in thought that sets Madala apart. At 12, the lass from Bhimavaram West Godawari is not only one of the youngest athletes at the Khelo India Youth Games but also the youngest to win a medal in archery.
Chirpy and joyous, her medal performance is even more noteworthy as she was up against two international archers. Unfazed, she defeated Priya Gujjar, a World Cup team gold medalist, and Parneet Kaur, an Asia Cup silver medalist, with ease.
Madala's mantra was simple. "I just concentrated on my shooting. I did not even pay attention to who my opponent was."
Call it childish innocence or the confidence of a young girl, she doesn't feel the stress that weighs down on most athletes.
"Madala is fearless," her coach Kamal Kishor Rohilla says, offering a better explanation for her success.
"It is easy to make the first record in archery. Sustaining it is the real challenge because the mind tends to get stressed with the weight of expectation," Kamal Kishor adds.
The gold, incidentally, was taken by Aditi Gopichand Swami, another youngster who had to slay another seasoned campaigner on her way to the top of the podium.
The 15-year-old from Satara, Maharashtra overcame Avneet Kaur, a World Cup mixed team gold medalist, to confirm the theory that archers start winning early.
"She is known for her cool demeanour and boldness on the ground. It does not bother her who the opponent is," her coach Praween Sawant says.
She fell in love with the sport the first time she saw it at a stadium. "It fascinated me, especially the technique and focus that is required," she reveals.
Aditi is keen to play against Jyoti Surekha Vennam. Why her? "Because she has won 98 medals in various national and international competitions. She is tough."
Thanks to the Archery Association of India and SAI, archery has come a long way from the days when archers hid from people that they played archery. (ANI)