An incredible deaf sports shooter from India, Dhanush Srikanth has overcome all obstacles with his persistent dedication, tenacity, and exceptional aiming abilities. At 19, he competed for India on his Deaflympic debut at the Summer Deaflympics of 2021 (held in May 2022) and brought home India’s first-ever shooting gold at the Deaflympics. Despite being deaf, he has been competing in the Indian shooting circuit and is well-known in the country’s shooting community. Gagan Narang, a former Indian sports shooter, is now his coach at the Hyderabad-based Guns for Glory Shooting Academy.
From Innocence to Adventure: Dhanush Srikanth’s Childhood Journey
The Indian deaf sports shooter champion was born on July 21, 2002. His childhood has not been without challenges for him. Although he had hearing and deafness issues as a child, his parents allowed him to play and study with other kids his age to prevent him from demanding special treatment. He had never learned sign language before competing in the Deaflympics. He also struggled with reading and communicating. When Srikanth was 13, his mother approached Gagan Narang, and it was only through Narang’s sketches and drawings that Dhanush picked up the skill of shooting. In addition to hearing issues, Srikanth also suffers from speaking issues.
Tracing Dhanush’s Remarkable Career
Dhanush Srikanth’s career has been built by his mother’s efforts, who reached out to Gagan Narang for his training. After almost three years of determination and training, Srikanth competed in the 2018 Telangana State Shooting Championships and took home the junior, youth, and senior titles.
At the 2019 Khelo India Youth Games, he earned a gold medal in the U-21 division, making history as the first deaf person to win a medal there. In the same year, at the Asian Shooting Championships in Doha, he qualified for the U21 men’s 10m air rifle team, becoming the first deaf shooter from India ever to do so. He won three gold medals in the ‘junior men’s individual 10m air rifle event’, the ‘junior men’s team 10m air rifle event’, and the ‘junior mixed gender 10m air rifle event’.
Athlete at the 2021 Summer Deaflympics, he set a new deaf world record while winning the gold medal in the ‘men’s 10m air rifle shooting event’ with a final score of 247.5 points, making him own India’s first ever shooting gold at the Deaflympics. In the final round of the mixed rifle competition at the same Deaflympics in 2021, he won another gold medal alongside Priyesha Deshmukh, defeating Sabrina Eckert and Sebastian Herrmany of Germany, 16-10.
Dhanush Srikanth’s awards and achievements add to the nation’s pride and inspire aspiring athletes with hearing impairments. At the ISSF Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany, in 2023, he won the gold medal in the ‘men’s 10m air rifle competition’, giving India three gold medals thus far. He also performed outstandingly, finishing with 249.4 points in the 24-shot final, 1.3 points ahead of Sweden’s Potan Kallin, who won the silver medal.
Dhanush – The Epitome of Zeal
With his tenacity, persistence, and exceptional aiming capabilities, Dhanush Srikanth overcomes all obstacles. Srikanth has discovered his voice through the art of shooting, where his capacity to concentrate and excel shows clearly, despite not being able to hear the world around him. From a young age, he discovered his love for sports and competition. However, as a deaf individual, he faced unique challenges in finding a discipline that would allow him to showcase his true potential. It was not until he stumbled upon the world of shooting that he found his true calling.