When Tungara Mahboobie and Lakshmi Nookarathnam of Marredpally Government School, Secunderabad, were selected by the Naandi Foundation for sailing, they would not have dreamt that in two years they would be beating some of the most experienced sailors at an international sailing competition.
After a disappointing Nationals performance where they finished 29th and 31st respectively, it seemed that a high-profile international regatta would be too overwhelming for them and that the girls lacked the mental strength to perform.
They returned to Hyderabad demoralized. But within a few days they returned with resolve to Pondicherry for an international regatta held in collaboration with the French government under the Bonjour India banner.
With a week's intense practice in the deep swell of the Arabian Sea, Mahboobie and Lakshmi redeemed themselves with some spectacular race wins beating the top Indian girls, and also the boys' National Champions in a few races, to clinch gold and silver respectively.
Suddala Jeevana was named the most promising sailor.
"The girls developed a sudden killer instinct and steamrolled all experienced competitors. We hope this winning streak continues. I am glad that the Naavika Sailing project for the girl child has finally taken wing," said Suheim Sheikh, coach and president of the Yacht Club of Hyderabad.
"This is my first international gold medal and I was happy to beat many top sailors of India, especially the experienced Chennai girls. I also won the overall bronze. Thanks very much to Suheim sir and The Yacht Club," said a beaming Mahboobie.
"I was very focused on my physical fitness, and the best moment for me was when my coach came up to my boat and congratulated me once I got the silver. My parents are also very proud of me as this is my first medal at a regatta," said Lakshmi bursting with pride. She added that she got two race wins.
Both Mahboobie and Lakshmi are now focusing on the Asian Championships trials set for April in Chennai despite a tight examination schedule.
Telangana sailors also dominated the under-16 Green Fleet with Pradeep Bhowmik and Ravali Parandi winning gold and silver, and Gnapika of Udbhav School finishing 4th beating all the French sailors.