THERE was little time to celebrate when 15-year-old Khushbu Dhayal, an archer ranked World No 85 by the World Archery Organisation, learnt from her mother that she passed the CBSE Class X board examinations with 9.4 CGPA, as she was headed for her daily practice.
Dhayal, who returned last week from the World Cup championship in Columbia, told her mother Ishawari that she would celebrate her score at the archery range. Winner of the sub-junior and junior national championships in archery which were held in Goa and Jamshedpur, it has only been two years since the junior champion started training in archery. In fact, she isn’t the only national level archer in her family. Her father, Lt Col Vikram Dhayal, is a national level player and coach in archery while her siblings, twins Divya and Digvijay, are national junior champions too. The family lives in Sopanbaug area.
“Each summer vacation, the children would enrol in summer camps and go for either swimming or basketball. Two years ago, Khushbu told her father that she wanted to learn archery. He was posted at the Army Institute of Physical Training then and took her for target practice. Within six months, by December 2014, she participated in the mini sub-junior national championship in Vijaywada where she won a silver medal in the Olympic round. After that, she won two gold medals at sub-junior and junior national championships within a month followed by the CBSE archery national championship in May. By then, her Std X had started but we decided not to let her passion for archery suffer and instead formed her schedule to include practice with studies,” said Ishwari.
Khushbu said the result mattered to her just a little, not too much. “I was quite focused on archery. In my academic career, I think I got at most 50 per cent time to focus on studies as I was travelling mostly. I studied for only 2-3 hours everyday, so the real credit goes to my teachers who took extra classes to ensure my concepts were cleared,” she said. Her mother recounted her academic year and how it was interspersed with several national ranking tournaments, trials for international events and even World Championships in Shanghai and Columbia.
“I must mention here how supportive her school was in this journey as they understood her needs and encouraged her. They even offered her extra classes so she could catch up on her syllabus when she missed a class for practice. Though sometimes, we had practice in the morning and evening both and couldn’t even make it to the extra classes, so we hired a tutor,” said Ishwari, who also juggled many roles in the last year. With not one but three national champions in her family — the twins Divya and Digvijay won a silver and gold in junior national championship besides winning a bronze (team) in the Asia Cup in Bangkok — Ishwari said in the last year, all she aimed was to support her children by making their schedules a little easier.
Meanwhile, as she prepares her daughter Divya for the World Cup in Turkey next week, she said the elder Khushbu hasn’t yet discussed her academic plans. “We know that she has her heart set on becoming an international archer and I think it’s a good plan. Academics will follow and we have never really been very worried for her as she has always been a sincere and responsible student. I can see the sparkle in her eye when she talks about archery and I would like my daughter to make a career in it. I think all parents must encourage children to do what they love, success will follow,” she said.