National Under 21 Archery Champion Omprakaash Singh aims for Olympics

At age 17 Om Prakaash Singh exemplifies the potential of our youths to excel not only in sports and academic but also in community and cultural activities. Currently Om Prakaash holds the titles in both the Indoor and Outdoor National Archery Championship in the under 21 category.

At age 17 Omprakaash Singh exemplifies the potential of our youths to excel not only in sports and academics but also in community and cultural activities. Currently Omprakaash holds the titles in both the Indoor and Outdoor National Archery Championships in the Under 21 Category.

An honours student at Vishnu Boys Hindu College, Omprakaash’s involvement in archery began at the tender age of 6 when he received a flyer about the Trinidad and Tobago Target Archery Federation at the El Dorado South Hindu School where he was a pupil. He took it home to his father, Prakash Singh, who enrolled him in the club under the guidance of coach Ramesar. At age 8 Omprakaash entered the Under 15 National Archery Championships (Indoor) and came first. He went on to win in this category four consecutive times, setting two national records.

At age 14 Omprakaash entered the Under 19 National Archery Championships and ran 1st four consecutive times, establishing five national records in this category.

A resident of San Juan, Omprakaash lives with his father, mother, sister and grandmother (Ajee).

His rigorous training routine includes running, going to the gym and regular training with his coach including Special Physical Training which is stretching of the bow and taking aim at the target without releasing the arrow.

When Omprakaash joined Central Precision Archery Club the Under 15 Championships were only six days away. His coach, Hasmath Ali, saw his potential and enrolled him for the Under 15 Championships. Omprakaash did not disappoint his coach.

Photo : Omprakaash Singh

Omprakaash represented Trinidad and Tobago in the Southern Caribbean Archery Championships in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and won seven gold, three silver and two bronze medals. Omprakaash also won the All Round Champion Trophy for his outstanding overall performance in 2015.

Omprakaash went for trials to qualify for the 2016 Olympics and came fourth. In the elimination he came first meaning that he did the best among the four final competitors but failed to score the 600 points to qualify. While Omprakaash was only 14 years of age, his competitors were ages 50, 48 and 36. No national has ever represented T&T at the Olympics so far.

On Saturday August 11, 2018 Omprakaash competed in the Seniors Open and placed 5th. The next day his club along with other clubs competed against the team selected for the Pan American Archery Championship and came second to the team selected to represent T&T.

In addition to archery, Omprakaash holds a Black Belt-1st degree. A student of SKIF, he was graded by a world renowned Japanese Master. So far he has won nine gold medals in karate championships. Omprakaash is also a trained lifeguard.

Omprakaash is also active in Bal Ramdilla (Children Ramleela). A project of the Hindu Prachaar Kendra, Omprakaash has been playing Ramdilla since the age of five. “I have played almost all the characters in the Ramayan,” he said.

Omprakaash is also a trained volunteer with Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh-Trinidad. He has been through specialised training and now holds the title of Shikshak or Trainer. Omprakaash would be teaching in the Annual Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh Youth Development Camp scheduled to begin on August 18 at SWAHA Hindu College, Sangre Grande.

A nominee for the First Citizen Youth Award 2015 and 2017 in target archery, Omprakaash is also the holder of seven national records-two in the under 15 category and 5 in the Under 19 Category.

The annual Varsha Pratipada Sansaad, held at the Chinmaya Mission, presented Omprakaash with awards in 2016 and 2018 for outstanding achievements in the field of archery.  “It was great to be recognised by my Hindu sisters and brothers,” he said.

Omprakaash is thankful to the Principal, Staff and pupils of Vishnu Boys Hindu College for always acknowledging and celebrating his achievements. He is the second student to be recognised as a Pillar of Strength in the field of sports, the first being Kersten Kallicharran for his outstanding performance as a batsman.

“Yoga and dhyaan are the most important part of my life,” said Omprakaash. “I am inspired by the master archers-Sri Rama of the Ramayana and Arjuna of the Mahabharata,” he stressed.

Prashaanta, his sister, is also the holder of a black belt in karate. In 2013 she represented her country in the Pan American Karate Championships and won a bronze medal. Omprakaash was also in that team but did not compete because of injury.

Also a trained Odissi dancer and a trained lifeguard, Prashaanta also has two under 19 national championships in archery with a national record. She is presently a third year students at UWI Medical Faculty where she is studying for her Doctor of Dental Surgery.

Kudos must be extended to Prakash Singh and his wife Shanta. Together, they made the necessary sacrifices and efforts to ensure that their children have the time and resources to excel.

Ramdoolarie Singh, their Ajee, now 89, is a niece of the legendary Chanka Maharaj, a former Member of Parliament, wrestler and founder-member of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha. She is ever present to shower her love, words of encouragements and blessings on her two grandchildren. Her longevity is in no small way because of her daily interaction with Prashaanta and Omprakaash, her son Prakash and her daughter-in-law Shanta.

Also, special tribute must be extended to their Guru Swami Aveshananda Giri of India.  Omprakaash and Prashaanta are Swamiji’s two disciples who got guru diksha outside of India. “I know Swamiji is forever present in their lives,” said Prakash.