The Weekend Leader - Bow and arrow

A protégé’s success at CWG, propels the mentor to hunt for more talents

P C Vinoj Kumar   |   Chennai


Vol 1 | Issue 9

About eight years ago, a young man from a village in Dharmapuri district set out to Chennai to meet Shihan Hussaini. He had seen the flamboyant karate master talking about archery on television. It had set off a spark in him and he wanted to become a champion archer like Limba Ram- though till that point of time he had not touched a bow or arrow in his life. In Chennai, Shihan agreed to train him free of cost in his archery academy, and later, noting his extraordinary talent advised him to join the army to receive advanced training.

Shihan’s protégé has done him proud. After winning a gold in the Asian Championship last year, he bagged a silver medal in the team event at the recent Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. At 28 years of age, C Srither, is now eyeing a gold medal at next year’s World Championship.

But for Shihan (left), Commonwealth Games silver medallist in archery, Srither (right), would not have scaled the heights he has reached now 

Spurred on by Srither’s success, Shihan - who is also an official at the Tamil Nadu Archery Association - has now embarked on a project to create more archery champions from Tamil Nadu. He calls it, Mission Olympics – 2016. “We are planning to conduct a free 2-day archery workshop in all the districts to identify talents to be trained for winning a medal in the 2016 Olympics,” he says.

Shihan, 52, is a popular karate instructor in Chennai. He has also been an actor, artist, and at one time even headed a private security bureau. He has trained thousands in karate, many of whom have received black belt. He shot into limelight in the early 1990s when he created a bizarre feat to grab the attention of the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa for donating land for his karate school. He had 100 cars run over his right hand, and then smashed 5000 tiles and 1000 bricks with the same hand before sketching Jayalalithaa’s portrait with the blood that flowed from his hand.

He had run into trouble with the earlier DMK regime (1996-2001), when police raided his home and seized many articles including the Jayalalithaa portrait – which till date remains untraced. He was once arrested in New Delhi on charges of travelling on a forged passport, and had to spend a few weeks at Tihar jail. “I have been acquitted in all the cases that were registered against me and today I am a free man,” he says.

Shihan attributes his travails to the general perception that he is a Jayalalithaa man, hinting at political vendetta. “It’s a wrong perception. I don’t belong to any party and I have met Jayalalithaa only twice in my life,” he says.

But the pro-Jayalalithaa label stuck harder on him early this year when Jayalalithaa gave Rs.2 lakhs to Srither for buying archery equipment responding to Shihan’s appeal. The Tamil Nadu government had ignored his pleas.

Meanwhile, Srither is grateful to the support he had received from Shihan. “He taught me the basics of archery,” he reminisces. In those days, Srither, who hails from a very poor family, used to sleep in the garage at Shihan’s house and train for hours daily in order to achieve his dream. As Shihan says, “Normally, one would get tired shooting for two or three hours. But he used to train from morning till evening.”

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