The compound mixed team pair of Abhishek Verma and Jyothi Surekha Vennam combined to give India its first ever medal in Archery at the World Games. The Indian pair defeated their Mexican counterparts, Andrea Becerra and Miguel Becerra, 157-156 in a closely fought bronze medal match.
Verma and Jyothi started off by hitting four 10’s to take the first set 40-39. The Mexicans hit back soon as the Indians faltered to equalise the score at 78 each after a second set of four shots each. The Indian pair once again went into the lead in the next set to take a 117-116 lead before both the pairs shot a perfect 40 in the final set only for Abhishek Verma and Jyothi Surekha to clinch a podium finish for the country. Jyothi Surekha actually scripted history by becoming the first Indian to win three medals in archery at the World Championship.
What interested me the most about the performance of the pair was not just about the success India has started seeing in Archery, but about the one Archer who surprised me by performing exceedingly well in any sport she takes up - this story is about Jyothi Surekha Vennam.
Jyothi Surekha Vennam—an Arjuna award winner for her excellence and outstanding performance in archery—is an athlete who excelled and gave her best in exploring, developing and exploiting the many talents she had. This young athlete, born in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, has turned out to be one of the greatest archers India has ever produced; however, her excellence in sports started just at the age of 4 when she learnt swimming. Jyothi Surekha swam across river Krishna in three hours and six minutes, which set a record of sorts. She went on to win many national and international awards in swimming. Later she took up archery in 2007 and never looked back. Her systematic and methodical approach has elevated her to her present position in world archery ranking.
Surekha had bagged 2011-13 Junior and Mixed categories of World Championships; her winning streak continued with silver medals in 2013, 2015 and 2017 consecutively. She also went on to win the gold medal in the World Universities Championship in the year 2016.
Between the years 2012 to 2018, she won two silver and four bronze medals out of the 15 World Cup tournaments she participated in. This 25-year-old compound archer has consistently improved herself in every tournament she participated in. In the recently concluded 2022 World Games Jyothi Surekha combined with Abhishek Verma went on to bag India's first ever medal in archery with a bronze. Before this edition of the world games India had a grand total of four medals in the competition’s history.
Swami Chinmayananda says, ‘The vital question is not how many talents each one of us has, but how much of our existing talents are we capable of exploring, developing and exploiting’. This is so true with Jyothi Surekha who not only gave her best but also went on to excel in whatever she explored. In one of her interviews she says, ‘with sincerity and dedication to whatever sport one chooses one will reap the fruits of success’. It is gladdening to see her succeed, and how! The story of Jyothi Surekha will surely inspire many youngsters from across the nation.