Training a Champion

Training a Champion

Ms. Purnima Mahato is an Indian archer and archery coach. She is the recipient of many awards and has successfully coached the Indian archery team in many international events. She is also the recipient of the Dronacharya Award, the highest award given for sports coaching, in India.

 In this exclusive interview with, Ms. Purnima speaks of her memorable experiences in training young archers, and gives a valuable message to children, teachers and parents.


1.How did you develop interest in Archery?

I was self-motivated to get into archery. Nobody asked me to undergo training or learn archery. Once I saw an archery session and thought I could get into this sport. I spoke to the coach there about my interest and he agreed to train me. I started training when I was 10-11 years old. Once I started playing, I developed interest and started doing well. During all this period, I had immense support from my family.

2.What are the problems that you have faced in Archery?

Practice was one of the main problems I faced. Going to school and coming back home was taking a lot of time due to which I couldn’t practice enough and couldn’t do well.

Next, was equipment. At that time, in the 90s, I got a second-hand bow to practice. It was a great thing then. But this problem was resolved once I entered the camp, for training.

3.As a Dronacharya Award winner, what according to you are the most important things that need to be taught?

  • Always stay ‘down to earth’.
  • Don’t let the victory get into your head.
  • Stay humble irrespective of the position you reach.
  • Respect everyone.

4.What do like about archery, playing or coaching?

Playing, participating and taking part in archery is a great feeling. I love participating in it. It involves just you and your training. Coaching is great too as it includes training students, and seeing to it that they perform well.

5.What is your most memorable experience?

I felt extremely proud and happy when Deepika (Deepika Kumari) became a world champion in Archery, from India. All of us have trained and played, but none of us could reach the level, which Deepika reached. When she won, it was a moment of pride and I felt “Yes, we have such great talent in India too.” It was also the time when I felt I have done a great job at training a champion like her.


6.You have received many awards and accolades till date, is there anything else you want to achieve or fulfill?

My dream is for the Indian archers to reach the Olympic finals and win medals for India- irrespective of the colour of the medal.

7.What are the things that you have learnt from your teacher or coach, that you will remember life long?

The one thing that my teacher has taught me is to not fear anything and ‘face everything with a smile’.

There were times when I was good and always wanted gold. I would get disappointed if I won anything below gold. So, my coach would tell me to accept my mistakes due to which I could not reach the desired level, and learn from it to improve for the next time.

8.What is your message for children?

  • Children have to learn from their failure. They have to understand that they would have lost/failed in a task because they would not have thoroughly prepared or the performance would have not been up to the mark. This does not mean that they have to get disappointed and give up. They will have to learn from the mistakes and move forward.
  • There are so many opportunities out in the world today. Children have to learn to grab it.
  • Children have to focus on one thing and should not go about trying and experimenting with everything.

9.What is your message for teachers?

- Teachers have to motivate children. These days, children are short tempered and angry at everything. Teachers have to train them to control their anger.

- Teachers have to teach children to behave in an appropriate manner with elders and other teachers.

10.What is your message for all the sportsmen and sportswomen?

My message is actually to the parents. If you want to enroll your child into any sports, do so when they are around 8-9 years of age. Once they grow up, there will be too many restrictions for them and can prevent them from learning.

Also, starting from a young age will help them train well and reach great heights when they are around 16-17 years of age.