Life does not owe us anything; it is us that owe life our best. This is the story of an astonishing young man who with his seer courage and determination has touched the hearts of billions.
When a roadblock falls into your way take a deep breath, step back and look for other routes. This statement fits apt for Sriharsha, the para shooter from Hubli, who with his strong mind and tremendous willpower made way through a thousand difficulties to win two Silver medals in the IWAS World Games 2019, held at Sharjah.
Sriharsha met with a fatal bike accident in February 2013 leaving him 75% physically disabled due to severe spinal cord injury. With constant support from family & friends, he tried to get his life back to normalcy and joined Deshpande Foundation, a Hubli based NGO in 2015 as Associate Program Manager. The job kept him busy but his constant urge to do more pushed him to explore more options.
One day he visited a shooting academy in Hubli to admit his son for coaching, only to eventually realize that he too can try his hand at shooting. In no time the game which started as an option to engage him turned out to be his passion. With lots of research on International guidelines for para-shooters and discussions with para-shooters all over India, he decided to join professional Para shooting.
Sriharsha narrates that “I had a lot of initial hiccups, due to crawled fingers and reduced strength in the hands; it was difficult to have a strong grip essential for holding the rifle which weighs about 4.4 kilograms and to press the trigger. However, the flexibility in the guidelines of the International Para-Olympic Committee and provision for use of extensions and spring stands facilitates para-shooters. Besides, a loader is provided to support and they work as a team.”
Finally, Sriharsha started training at the Hubli Sports Shooting Academy chasing his dream of becoming a 10 m Air Rifle Para-Shooter. He was advised to participate in the SH-2 category for Para-shooters. This category facilitates the support of a loader and helping hand for para-shooters. His wife Mrs Shobha, who has always been a pillar of strength, took the onus of supporting him as a loader and has been motivating him in all thick and thin
He narrates “My wife has an equal share in my success. We are a team; while I aim at the target she does the task of the loader which is an extremely crucial one, she has to read my mind during the event. The rules do not allow us to communicate in the range.” The tremendous amount of strategy and planning before an event and accordingly the necessary clicks (screw adjustments) are made by the loader along with adjustments of the stand to fit in the correct line and precision.
The journey of relentless efforts paid off when Sriharsha won the first bronze medal in his Debut National Para-Shooting Championship in 2017-18. In the consecutive year, he won two silver medals in the National Championships. Then on there was no looking back. Further, he won two silver medals at the IWAS World Games-2019 held at Sharjah in Feb 2019. Sriharsha also participated in World Shooting Para Sport World Cup held at Osijek-Croatia-Europe in July 2019 and is selected to participate in WSPS World Championship 2019 being held at Sydney, Australia later this year.
He states “Shooting is like high-level Yoga. It requires a high level of coordination between the mind and body. It is with utmost concentration and attentiveness one can attain the required precision. It would be only fair to say your future is decided in mm.”
Presently Sriharsha is training under the Ekalavya awardee coach; Shri Rakesh Manpat at the Elite Shooting Club in Bangalore. He has been able to bring precision and improvise his skills under his training with advanced technological tools. The coach is hopeful of his success in the upcoming tournaments.
However, beyond his quest to succeed there are certain shortfalls that he is facing while competing at International level. The use of advanced equipment, International level coaching facilities and diet are financially demanding. Sponsorship or financial support from NGO’s, sports enthusiasts or CSR funding will encourage this ardent para shooter to bring laurels to the country. (For sponsorship please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com )
To sum up, there is no one size fits all recipe in life to raise from hardships. It all depends on how one has lived life until the point when adversity strikes. Sriharsha was a sales executive by profession and a university blue badminton & volleyball player. All of these required him to always take risks and chase targets. These experiences that he garnered in life have become his real strength.