VADODARA: Just at 17, this tribal girl from the small Bor village of Ghoghamba taluka in Panchmahal district, is trying to hit the bullseye. Premila Baria, who won many laurels in junior-level archery, is aiming high and wants to be an Olympian.

Baria used to see men display their archery skills at Dussehra gatherings in and around her village. “I was always attracted to the skill. When I was admitted to the Shriji Ashram Shala at Ghoghamba, I got the opportunity to try the sport,” she said.

Determined to pursue archery, Baria snatched her opportunity. “The equipment is very expensive. It has been provided to me by the state government. At the Ashram Shala, I used to practice with equipment provided by the school,” she said.

But for her extraordinary talent and the fact that she was provided the equipment, she would not have been able to pursue the sport. While Baria is not from a very poor background, her family’s income could not have supported her pursuit of archery. “My family relies on farming. We have five or six vighas of land,” she says. The Baria family is also has relatively more mouths to feed. She has two sisters and a brother, besides her parents and grandparents.

Baria said nobody from her family had travelled as much as she has. “They are worried about me whenever I travel, but they are also happy at the progress I have made,” she says.

The young archer will be at the Junior Asia Cup in Thailand later this month. Earlier, she took part in the Youth Festa international archery competition in South Korea, at the sub-junior level, where she won a bronze medal in the mixed team event and a silver medal in the team event.

Baria has won two silver medals at the the National School Games, two golds at the Khel Mahakumbh and a bronze in the team Nationals in the junior category in 2016. She has participated a number of tournaments at the national level.

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