Indian students archer aim for their future

Gurukul Prabhat Ashram

Irrespective of their family background, Somendra and his 84 fellow students equally share chores such as farming, tending cattle and cooking. They also forego the other trappings of modern culture most other teenagers take for granted _ television, movies and computers. For Somedra, it's the archery practice that matters most in his life.

"I'll get a job with a police department if they select me at the national championships this year. I'm sure I'll do well, it is only the food that I need to adjust to,'' says Somendra, who is used to eating bland meals without the oil and spices that are otherwise intrinsic to Indian cuisine.

Getting a police job is paramount for the archers, as it allows them to continue with their sport by representing their departments in national-level competitions.

Gurukul Prabhat is headed by Swami Vivekanand, who operates the institution with the help of private donations.

Vivekanand speaks only Sanskrit, except when under a particular tree where he agrees to talk to the Associated Press in India's modern language Hindi.

"I want India to win gold medals, not just any medal,'' Vivekanand says in reference to the six silver and bronze medals India won at this year's London Olympics.

As for gold medal prospect Deepika Kumari, who left London without a medal, Vivekanand says with confidence and a careful measure of words: "She got rattled with all the attention. That is not something that would happen to one from our institute.''

But are the archers at Gurukul Prabhat really that much different to those from more conventional backgrounds?

"There is a lot of difference between boys here and outside,'' archery coach Anuj Choudhary says. "What an archer learns in one year at some other place, he will learn in only six months here because of the serene atmosphere.''

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