Archer Parth Salunkhe has won 13 medals, including five gold in international competitions. The TOI #Unstoppable21 jury has picked the Maharashtra teen as one of the Unstoppable 21 Indians under 21 years.
At the age of nine, Parth Salunkhe used to eagerly wait for his seniors to practise archery at the school academy in Satara, Maharashtra.
In no time, he got hooked on the bow-and-arrow sport. Inspired by the frequent media mentions of his seniors, he decided to make a career in archery.
In 2012, he started practising archery under a local trainer in Satara, but his coach stopped training him within months. For a year, he practised without a coach, until his father Sushant, a national-level silver medallist in kickboxing, took the onus on himself and started watching archery training sessions on YouTube to guide him. This continued for three years from 2014 to 2017.
“Parth’s concentration level was solid from a young age. His determination and knack for archery were palpable and I decided to train him. Though I was not aware of the nitty-gritty of the sport, I found many training videos easily available on the internet. That’s how an archery coach was born in me,” said Sushant.
In less than five years, Parth broke the national record in an Under-14 championship, scoring 349 points out of 360, and bagged a national medal in the Indian Bow category.
Then, he made a shift to the Recurve category. “The Recurve event is a part of the Olympic programme and Parth always aimed to win an Olympics gold for the country. Though the shift was difficult, his focus and commitment helped him overcome the hurdle. He started his journey in Recurve from the Under-17 category, making slow but steady progress,” Sushant told TOI.
During the Khelo India trials in 2018, the scouts from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) spotted Parth’s talent. Later, the SPS Archery Academy student started training under the watchful eyes of experienced coach Ram Awdhesh at the SAI centre in Sonipat, Haryana.
On his India debut in 2021, Parth won his first international medal – a silver a team event at the Asian Outdoor Championships. At the Youth World Championship in Poland later that year, he won gold medals in the men’s and mixed team events and also attended the trials for the Senior World Championship. He also participated in senior nationals and won individual gold, a silver in a team event and overall bronze medals.
After making his India debut at 17, Parth went on to become the first Indian boy to win an individual gold medal in the World Youth Championship in Ireland in July this year, defeating seventh-seed Korean Song Injun in the Under-21 Men’s Recurve individual final.
He was selected for the scholarship under Olympic Gold Quest and became a Class 1 officer at the Reserve Bank of India through the sports quota.
Sushant said, “Unlike many teenagers, Parth is not active on social media and uses mobile phones only for necessary things. He does not play any other sport and practises six to eight hours a day. He also focuses on fitness training. He is a pure vegetarian and yoga is the most important element in his life.”
Parth is equally good at studies. He studied at the New English Medium School at Karanje Peth, Satara, and stood second in class 10.
After winning his first gold medal in the team event during the 2021 World Youth Championship, he helped the Indian team emerge champions during the Asian Grand Prix Circuit in 2022 and 2023.
Since his India debut, Parth has won 13 medals, including five gold in international competitions, and has now locked his target on the Olympics podium.