Arjuna awards for Swami, Deotale and armless archer Sheetal Devi

Arjuna Award winners Sheetal Devi and Aditi Swami.

World Archery Champions Aditi Swami and Ojas Deotale, and Sheetal Devi, the armless 16-year-old who won the Asian Para Games, were presented with Arjuna Awards at a ceremony in Delhi on 9 January 2024.

The prize has been India’s second-highest sporting honour since first being awarded in 1961.

“I feel very proud to have received the prestigious Arjuna Award,” Swami said. “It has been on my bucket list ever since I witnessed my seniors receiving this honour.”

The 17-year-old made history as she became the youngest World Archery Champion of the modern era and India’s first-ever senior world champion in her debut international season.

“While receiving the award, I had flashbacks of my failures and successes. It was the most precious moment for me.”

Swami was also the under-18 world champion in 2023 and took part in India’s record-breaking campaign at the Asian Games where she won individual bronze and team gold.

Ojas won a historic compound men’s gold at the world championships, before hitting a hat-trick of three gold medals – individual, team and mixed team – at the Asian Games. India was the first non-Korean nation to top the medal table in 45 years at the multisport event, as Indian archers bagged nine podiums including five gold medals.

The three archers were among 26 athletes honoured in the ceremony.

Swami and Deotale are the 18th and 19th able-bodied archers to receive the Arjuna Award, while Devi is only the second para archer to be recognised with the prize. Paralympic bronze medallist Harvinder Singh was the first, in 2021.

Atanu Das (2020), Jyothi Surekha Vennam (2017) and Deepika Kumari (2012) are among the 21 archers to have previously received the Arjuna Award.

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