The best breakout ever? Swami’s sensational season at just 17

Aditi Swami at the world championships.


Aditi Gopichand Swami made history in August, becoming India’s first individual world champion and the youngest archer to win a world title in the World Cup-era (since 2006) when she took gold at the 2023 Hyundai World Archery Championships in Berlin.

That result came just days after securing the under-18 world title in Limerick in July – and she finished the year with individual bronze (and team gold) at the Asian Games.

Swami is just 17.

“My father suggested I start a sport,” she explained during the World Cup stage in Paris. “He took me to a sports stadium and I saw people doing archery. When I saw a compound bow, I absolutely loved the look of it and wanted to try.”

“I wanted to know how it worked and how people shot with it.”

That was in 2016 in the Satara district of the state of Maharashtra.

At the age of just 10, Aditi joined an archery academy, training every day under coach Pravin Sawant. Sacrificing time with friends or other more ‘normal’ activities wasn’t a chore.

“It’s not hard to practise,” she said. “We were having lots of fun, and our coaches were good at giving us different things to do that made training more interesting.”

Aditi’s first national competition was a school games in 2017, when she competed in an under-14 category. It didn’t quite go to plan, apparently, but she still finished second. It was a formative experience in developing her now keen love for competition.

“It was an inspiration for me. It gave me the confidence to believe that yes, I can do anything,” she said.

It’s an attitude that melds well with new Indian compound coach Sergio Pagni, a former Italian international who, in his own words, has only brought the belief to the national team that achieving big results is eminently possible.

“Everyone around the world with a compound can shoot the 10 easily. The most difficult thing is managing this in a finals field,” he explained at the Asian Games, where the Indian squad swept all five gold medals in the bowstyle.

“Even when I was a shooter, I was only working on maintaining confidence. The attitude to make 10 after 10, 30 after 30, and that’s what I try to coach.”

The approach has resonated with Swami.

Faced with the largest crowd of her career and standing opposite teammate – and team leader – Jyothi Surekha Vennam, Aditi delivered the match of her life in Berlin, a four-point semifinal win and a shot at the world title.

“I concentrated on my shooting and just enjoyed it,” she said.

Her next – and last – match in Berlin was another 149, another win, this one securing the world title.

The poise and confidence on display… a far cry from Indian arena performances of decades past, where the country’s archers would get so close, only to not quite deliver the biggest result. Of course, the inaugural team gold that Swami, Vennam and Parneet Kaur had secured one day prior can’t have hurt Swami’s confidence either.

“Just play your game,” said Aditi, asked about her approach to the sport. “Don’t treat it like a competition.”

“Enjoy the game, make yourself proud.”

Having authored one of the greatest debut seasons of any international archer in living memory, Aditi Gopichand Swami has much more to celebrate than just that.

Aditi Swami in 2023

  • World Archery Champion – Berlin, Germany
  • Gold medallist (team) at world championships – Berlin, Germany
  • Youngest individual world champion of the modern era (2006-present)
  • World Archery Youth Champion (under-18) – Limerick, Ireland
  • Bronze medallist (individual) at Asian Games – Hangzhou, China
  • Gold medallist (team) at Asian Games – Hangzhou, China