India enjoys regular archery entries at the late Olympics, however, the results are nothing to brag about. Even as we prepare for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, athletes with a bow and arrows will board the flight with high expectations, with at least one medal expected in the return flight.
If any discipline can be seen as a consistent underperformance at the Olympics – for India – then archery would claim the title hands down. India’s first archery appearance at the 1988 Seoul Games was marked by early exits, but it was a path breaker nonetheless. The gradual progression in the discipline simultaneously raises expectations at multisport events, especially the Olympics. Even though Asian Games medals did come, the Olympics turned out to be too far-fetched.
For example, the archery team at the Rio 2016 Olympics bragged about world champions, immediately naming them as medal hopefuls. Contrary to all projections, a quarterfinal finish for the recurve women’s team was the best inference of the event, with the individual competitors all perishing in the round of 16. Another four years of waiting and the situation is similar. A large contingent awaits participation. Can India finally break the jinx?
However, India still may not line up its full workforce. Thanks to travel restrictions, which deprived the recurve women’s team of a chance to qualify for the quadrennial event when they were denied visas for the second stage World Cup in Switzerland. With around two months to go until the show starts, we can expect the 11th hour drama to unfold at any time, with AFI (Indian Archery Federation) striving to pump up the quota.
So far, four archers have qualified for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics –
Atanu Das (Recurve Men Individual, Team Recurve Men)
The Kolkata archer began his career at the age of 14, moving to the Tata Archery Academy four years later, in 2008, to train with Korean coach Lim Chae Wong. Entering the scene with a silver medal at the 2011 World Junior Championships was the only boost he needed. However, the bronze medal alongside Deepika Kumari in the 2013 World Cup mixed team event was when everyone took notice of the youngster. Since then, it is a one-way traffic.
With plenty of experience, Atanu is set to storm the shooting range in Tokyo, putting the lairs of Rio to rest, where he crashed in a knockout loss in the round of 16. The best 2021 Archery World Cup podium in Guatemala City, a few months before the showdown in Tokyo, is likely to set the tone for the Olympics. Besides the individual entry, he is also part of the men’s team event alongside Tarundeep Rai and Pravin Jadhav.
Tarundeep Rai (Recurve Men Individual, Team Recurve Men)
The veteran who has been among Indian archery’s greats for the past 15 years is set to compete in his third Olympics. At the age of 19, in 2003, the Sikkim-based athlete made his international debut, which led to him appearing at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Despite the spark, his outings at the Games 2004 and 2012 (London Olympics) did not reflect its powerful potential. It was hardly the end of the road for him.
At 37, still going strong with the bow and arrows, Tarundeep is ready to roll the last dice in his quest for an Olympic medal. The Archer is already a trailblazer, having won the very first Asian Games silver medal by an Indian in 2010 in Guangzhou. Landing a medal in what should be his last major event will serve as a fitting epilogue to an illustrious 24-year career.
Pravin Jadhav (Men’s Individual Recurve, Men’s Recurve Team)
One of the relatively young products on the circuit, Pravin’s entry into the foray dates back to 2016 when he represented India at the 2016 World Cup in Bangkok. It was in the same event that he won a bronze medal in the recurve team. But, his career highlight is still his appearance in the final at the 2019 World Championships, in the team event.
Pravin, who spent most of his days locked out at the Army Sports Institute in Pune, will feature in both men’s individual and team at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. ans finished in 15th place in phase I of the 2021 World Cup in Guatemala City, which is not the best of displays. But with two months to go until the Games start, there is plenty of time to get in the best shape possible.
Deepika Kumari (Women’s Individual Classic)
The most successful Indian archer of the past decade, Deepika Kumari has made the headlines most of the time during his trophy-filled career. Her fame came at the 2010 Commonwealth Games where she finished with two gold medals – individual and team events. Two years later, Deepika won her first World Cup triumph and would also become the highest ranked player in the world. That, unfortunately, didn’t have a huge impact on his display at the London 2012 Olympics, where he was shown the door in the first round.
A few insufficient results from mega-events (2012 and 2016 Olympics) can hardly justify the player she is, which is why the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympics will serve as a real test of acid for Deepika. . It is an obstacle that the world today does not have. 3 must overcome to establish himself as the greatest Indian archer of all time. A few gold medals at the 2021 World Cup I in Guatemala City would certainly give him confidence in the preparations for the Games.