Women archers look for Olympic medal, men a berth
New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) Indian women archers may have a legitimate grouse if they feel they are not getting enough hype and hoopla ahead of the London Olympics. For, they have a great chance of winning a medal at the July-August Games, whether sports buffs believe it or not.
Even simple statistics justify the women's chances. The Recurve team comprising Deepika Kumari, Chekrovolu Swuro and Laishram Bombayala Devi is No.2 in the latest world rankings for 52 countries.
As for men, Jayanta Talukdar is the lone archer to make the cut and chances of the Recurve team making it to London will depend on their showing at the June World Cup in Ogden. They will have to finish among the top three to make it. They are ranked fifth in 63 nations.
Unlike the women, top men's archers Talukdar, Tarundep Rai and Rahul Bannerjee did not have a great 2011 and will need to be more consistent to make the Olympics.
However, head coach Limba Ram, himself a top archer of his time, has a note of caution for the women. He feels the men seem to be peaking at the right time whereas the women had a terrific last year.
"Interestingly, the men are gelling better than the women right now. The women's team has a better chance there with the results they had last year," Limba Ram told IANS.
"But in archery it is very important to peak at the right time. I fear they might have peaked a bit too early. The men have had it tough, but they have been shooting well in tandem. I hope they are able to maintain their form that they have shown in practice," he said.
The women's trio of Deepika, Chekrovolu and Bombayala Devi qualified for the London mega event after making the finals of the World Championships in Italy last year and their consistently impressive performance last year makes them out as potential medal winners, in the team as well as individual categories.
They won one gold, two silver and a bronze in four Word Cup outings, besides bagging the more prestigious silver in the World Championships in Turin where they stunned World Champions South Korea in the semi-finals.
Deepika, who famously beat Olympic bronze medallist Alson Williamson for gold in the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games, has a good chance of a podium finish at the Lord's Arena, the archery venue for the London Games.
The 17-year-old won the World Juniors last year and earned two silver and a bronze in World Cups. In the last two years, her tally was seven individual medals and 11 team medals internationally. For a sporting achievement what else can one ask for?
Limba says his wards' chances at the Olympics will depend a lot on how they fare in the upcoming tournaments, starting with first World Cup in Shanghai beginning Tuesday.
"We can't make any major changes in the archers' overall game with the Olympics fast approaching. The focus is on shooting and concentration. For this their mind must be free of tension and worries. That is all we have been working on in the three training sessions daily in Kolkata," he said.
Though the team will be going to London three weeks in advance to train at the "windy" Lord's, the team members are anxious about aiming at the target at the iconic cricket ground.
"I just hope I am not overawed competing at the ground. There will be so many people watching us. The conditions are expected to be windy and shooting high scores consistently will be tough," Deepika told IANS.
India are yet to win a medal in archery ever since the sport's Olympic debut in 1900 Paris edition.
(Bharat Sharma can be contacted at email@example.com)
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