Hyderabad: An 18-year-old sailor from Hyderabad, Preethi Kongara, has finally reaped the rewards of her perseverance and never-say-die attitude. She has become the first sailor from the state to qualify for the Hangzhou Asian Games 2023, scheduled for September, after training with the goal of achieving Asian Games qualification since 2020. Despite facing disappointment when she finished fourth in the trials of the mixed-doubles class of boats for the 2022 Asian Games, Kongara remained determined to succeed.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Games were postponed to this year, giving Preethi another chance to qualify. However, fate had other plans as she encountered obstacles again. She was hit by a bout of chickenpox just before the trials, resulting in a loss of crucial preparation time.
The resolute sailor made a strong comeback and aced the trials in Mumbai, securing a spot in the mixed-doubles class along with her partner Sudanshu Shekhar from the Indian Navy.
“I am ecstatic as this is my greatest accomplishment. I have been sailing for eight years with my primary goal being the Asian Games qualification. I am pleased to have achieved this milestone,” expressed an elated Kongara.
She participated in the Nanhikali programme for girl children by the Naandi Foundation in 2016, which is where she began sailing. After three races in the trials, Kongara demonstrated her skills and talent by securing the top position, finishing first in the initial race and second in the following two races.
As of now, my target is to secure a medal at the Asian Games. I plan to concentrate on my fitness and diet during my stay in Hyderabad for the next few days. Once I arrive in Mumbai, I will start preparing for the Asian Games, and we have scheduled a few tournaments in Europe,” unveiled the second-year Intermediate student.
The competition at the international level is undoubtedly challenging, but we are prepared to face it. Our trip to Europe will provide us with valuable experience before the Games,” remarked the newly-crowned national champion, who is inspired by her mentor and coach Suheim Sheikh at the YCH Sports Foundation.
“She was the most spirited member of the group when she joined, and she remains the most tenacious sailor we have ever had. She has the drive to succeed,” commented Sheikh, expressing his hopes for Kongara’s success at the Asian Games.