Jafreen Shaik from Hyderabad and Prithvi Sekhar from Tamil Nadu won the Bronze medal in tennis mixed doubles at the 23rd Summer Deaflympics in Turkey.
They defeated Chun-Wei Wang/Chiu-Mei Ho from Taiwan with scores of 6/4, 6/3. This is the first time India has won a medal in tennis in Deaf Olympics
Jafreen says, “This victory means a lot, and is only a reflection of the hard work we have put in over the years. I got the 5th position in 2013 Deaf Olympics (Singles), but this time we were determined to win the medal. I am glad that we pulled it off. This has boosted our confidence and has made us more responsible.”
So, how were the celebrations? “Nothing big! The team, along with my father, had a get-together and shared a few anecdotes from the finals.”
Ask her how she was feeling before the final and she says, “I was a bit nervous, but Prithvi and I did not think about it too much. The game plan was simple — to enjoy and give our best.”
The camaraderie between Jafreen and Prithvi was great. “Both of us make for a formidable duo,” the 20-year-old says, adding, “I think our on-court understanding and the fact that we played in tandem worked well. I practiced for 4-5 hours daily, and I guess my intensive coaching in China under Croatian coach Domagoj Juric helped me stay focussed.”
The two-time national champion admits that her victories at Asian Deaf Games and Deaf World Championships changed her a lot. “Success gives you confidence. My thought process has changed after these victories, and I started working on my strengths. It made me more aggressive. But we need to realise that the path is not easy.”
Jafreen was quick to acknowledge her parents as the driving force in her success. “My father has been travelling with me wherever I go and encourages me,” she says.
Jafreen is now hoping that her historic victory will encourage more people in her category to take up the sport, considering the fact that the game has a lot to offer....