Gora Ho stood strong, with his back straight, arms stretched and eyes focusing strictly on the target. He gripped his bow, stretched the string, and perfectly balanced the arrow. It was a matter of just one perfect pull and release that would help Gora earn a gold medal at the Asia cup.
Gora was part of the Indian team of archers at the Asia Cup Stage I archery meet in Bangkok. The trio of Akash Malik, Gaurav Lambe and Gora beat the Mongolians, scoring 27-26 in the final tie-breaker and securing a gold medal for India.
This win resulted in India bagging a total of three gold and two bronze medals at the Bangkok meet.
Gora’s story of how he succeeded in making India proud with his archery skills is particularly special. He has reached this acclaimed stage battling poverty and managing without adequate resources.
The 17-year-old comes from a tribal belt in Jharkhand and has already secured over a 100 medals in state and national level tournaments.
The journey began six years ago when Gora was training at the Arjuna Archery Academy in Kharswan. B Srinivas Rao, his current coach spotted Gora there and realised immediately that this child was a prodigy archer who would do wonders under proper guidance at the Dugni Academy in Seraikela.
“This boy is Olympic material,” Rao told Times of India. “His natural talent needs to be honed through focused training under the guidance of a recognised foreign coach.”
Even as it was apparent that Gora possessed immense talent in archery, the fact was that he comes from a poverty-stricken family where pursuing sports might not have been the most preferred career choice. The youngest of four siblings, Gora lost his mother in 2016. His 50-year-old father, Khaireu Ho, suffered a paralytic attack two years ago and has been confined to a bed since.
But the grave circumstances never made Gora from making his family and now the country, proud of him.
After he shifted to the Dugni Academy, the then 13-year-old Gora won three tournaments at the National School Games in Ranchi. In 2015, he bagged an impressive ten medals at the Jharkhand Archery Championships.
“Even as a little boy, he showed a remarkable talent for archery,” Prem Shankar, Gora’s elder brother told TOI. “He has the capacity of doing the country proud in more international competitions. He needs the proper guidance.”
In the same year, Gora received the National Child Award from the then President Pranab Mukherjee. His talent was also recognised by the state government which awarded him a special bow that costs Rs 2.70 lakh!
At present, this “Golden Boy” of Jharkhand is a cadet at The Army Boys Club in Pune. He still goes to Jamshedpur for his training in archery, to continue pursuing his passion.
“Support from my teammates and hard work helped me perform well at my first tournament,” he told TOI. “I wish to keep this dream alive and shoot for India at the 2020 Olympic Games.”