Turin-bound Indian archers look to seal Olympic quota places

Turin-bound Indian archers look to seal Olympic quota places

Tarundeep Rai, who will spearhead the men's team challenge in Turin, told PTI that it would be a golden chance for them to make the cut in both the sections. "Yeh ek sunhara mauka hai (it will be a never-before opportunity). We will just have to win the first round in the elimination stage to seal berths for London Olympics," Rai stated before leaving for the Championship.

"But our target is to win medals there and thus qualify for the Olympics," a confident Rai said. The Services archer, who trains at Pune-based Army Sports Institute, further said the team would look to overcome the bitter experience in last Olympics where Mangal Singh Champia was the lone contestant from the men's section.

The same men's trio of Rai, Jayanta Talukdar and Rahul Banerjee came a cropper in their last tournament - World Cup Stage II in Turkey - but the senior member of the side said they have started afresh after returning from Antalya.

"It will be a different tournament and all of us are in good form, having shot scores of above 1340 points (from 1440) during practice sessions. If we hit the mark in the qualifying stage there then we would definitely come in top four places in the elimination," Rai said.

The women's team does not have the experience of two-time Olympian Dola Banerjee but in her absence Commonwealth Games double gold medalist Deepika Kumari will add the sting.

Unlike the men's team, the 17-year-old from Ranchi has been consistent in both the legs of World Cup and she hopes to retain the winning momentum.  For Deepika, doing well in Olympics is an ultimate achievement.

"Olympics is a big dream. I am trying not to get distracted by what is said or written about our chances now. I just want to concentrate on my game and maintain the momentum," she said.

Finishing top in the qualification stage will hand them an easy draw from the better half of a 16-member draw. As a matter of fact, the six-member team in both the men's and women's sections have the chance to book as many places if they go past the first round so as to make last eight.

The only time India grabbed the six qualifying spots was in 2005 at Madrid when both the men's and women's teams not only qualified for the Athens Olympics but were also placed second and fourth respectively.

But Beijing 2008 was a different story as only Indian women's team qualified from Leipzig Worlds in 2009. Later, Champia too made the cut finishing second in the Continental qualification. A total of 571 archers from 87 countries will vie for top honours in the World Championship.

India will also have a non-playing captain in the Archery Association of India secretary general Paresh Nath Mukherjee who has already left to represent the India in the 49th FITA Congress that will precede the championship.

The team:

Men: Tarundeep Rai, Jayanta Talukdar and Rahul Banerjee

Women: Deepika Kumari, Laishram Bombayla Devi and Chekrovolu Swuro.

Coaches: Ravi Shankar and Purnima Mahato. Physio: Jaidip Daschowdhury. Delegate and non-playing captain: Paresh Nath Mukherjee.

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