It always feels great to see athletes winning medals for the nation. Behind every athlete’s success, there is lots of hard work and burning desire when he or she steps on the field.
Akash Malik hogged the limelight as he became India’s first silver-medallist in archery at the Youth Olympic Games at the marquee event Buenos Aires, Argentina. The 15-year-old son of a farmer might have lost a one-sided final to Trenton Cowles of the USA 0-6 but he made the country proud at the global stage as India finished with three gold, nine silver, and one bronze at the event that was launched in 2010.
“I have trained in the wind, but here it was too much. I was waiting for an opportunity but he [Cowles] was stronger and I had no chance,” Akash told PTI.
“I feel good but I lost the gold medal,” he added.
Akash developed an interest for archery six years ago after Manjeet Malik, a physical-trainer-turned-archery-coach, chose him during a trial.
“One day my friends took me to a field where I saw kids aiming at a target with arrows. Mujhe laga woh shikaar kar rahe hain [I thought they were hunting something],” Akash said.
Akash used to play cricket with his friends but he went on to create interest for the ‘new-found sport’
“Mujhe laga mein kuchh kar sakta hoon [I thought I could do something],” he said.
Akash’s father, Narender Malik is a hard worker. He works in wheat and cotton farming and he never wanted his son Akash to join him at the fields.
“Initially my parents dissuaded me as they wanted me to study to land up a government job. But after I started winning medals they have started backing me fully. They must be very happy now,” Akash said.
Akash is confident that he would qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
“Now I’ve to put in more effort and hope to qualify for Tokyo Olympics,” he said about his mission 2020.
His coach Manjeet Malik is impressed with Akash who holds his nerves well and remain calm in the nerve-racking situation. “He was very calm and composed and I thought he could shoot arrows steadily. He now shoots with confidence. It was raining as well when the final started,” the coach said.
In 2014, Akash was part of the recurve boys team which clinched a gold medal at the mini national (under-14) archery championship in Vijayawada.
Akash also won a gold medal in the Youth Olympics qualifying event last year. He also clinched a gold medal at Asia Cup Stage-I, two bronze in Asia Cup Stage-II and a silver and a bronze in the South Asian championship, in the last one year.
(With PTI inputs)