| Archers take aim on the final day of the national ranking meet at SAI on Sunday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta:The recent performance of Indian archers has encouraged the Archery Association of India (AAI) to think seriously in terms of securing a medal in the 2004 Olympics.
Indian men and women finished fourth and sixth, respectively, at the world championships and both teams qualified for the Athens extravaganza. Inspired by the show, the AAI has launched a series of domestic competitions to select the very best before sending them to Athens.
“We have seen our archers have what it takes to do well at the top level. What we need now is consistency, which will come through competition. That’s why we have decided to hold eight national ranking meets before selecting the Olympic teams,” said AAI secretary Anil Kamineni on Sunday.
The official admits competition at the international level is an absolute must and informed four such exposure trips have already been lined up. “Our teams will take part in the Asian meet (in Myanmar) in November. After that they will go to the Asian Grand Prix and two more Grand Prix meets in Europe.”
The AAI has shortlisted 46 archers (37 men, nine women) for the eight national-ranking meets and all have to take part in at least six to be eligible for Olympic selection. Participating in the last meet in Meerut in next June is compulsory.
“The world championship performance has given us added vigour. We don’t know whether we will win a medal in Athens, but it’s certain that we will not be there merely to participate. We will compete,” said Kamineni.
Officials associated with sports bodies in India usually don’t make such statements. The AAI is hopeful of roping in a South Korean coach within a month. “A coach from the country that regularly produces world champions will always be helpful. But what we need now is consistent good scores which can come through competition and exposure.”
Tarundeep Rai and Dola Banerjee won the men’s and women’s titles, respectively, at the national-ranking (first leg) meet which concluded at the SAI. Before that, there were a series of upsets in the individual and team events.
Jayant Talukdar knocked out favourite Satyadev Prasad in the men’s semi-finals, while Sumangala surprised Chekrovelu Swuro at the same stage in the women’s section.
In the team championship, the crack outfit of Tarundeep, Satyadev and Majhi Swayan lost to the lot comprising Jayant, Bulbul Marandi and Manoj Kumar.
In the men’s final, actually a battle of teenagers, Rai won the first of three match-ups at 106-105. The second was even closer going down to the wire as both tied 111-111. In the tie-breaker, the nerve factor came into play as Rai hit the bulls eye, a perfect ten and the 16-year-old Guwahati-born Tata Archery Academy trainee from Jamshedpur got in a nine-point shot.
India’s archery queen Dola made it five out of five winning all the ranking meet titles since the first played in January this year.
The 23-year-old from Baranagar, near Kolkata, representing Jharkhand, proved too good for Sumangala of Uttar Pradesh in the final. Dola won 103-93, 101-93. The UP girl, figuring in her maiden senior final, failed to cope up with the pressure. Dola took home Rs. 14,000 and Sumangala got Rs. 11,000.