Indian archers begin campaign today

Indian archers are primed for their first ever Olympic medal in London where they begin their challenge on the morning of the opening ceremony here on Friday.

A medal in all four events can be expected from the six-member outfit with World No 1 Deepika Kumari, 18, being the spearhead.

Before the world witnesses the $42 million opening ceremony of the 30th Olympic Games on Friday night, the India men and women archers will be aiming for the bull’s-eye in the ranking round of the team event at the iconic Lord’s cricket ground.

India could open its medal tally at London as early as Saturday when the medal round of the team championships is scheduled.  

All eyes will be on the World No 2 women’s team of Deepika, Chekrovolu Swuro and Bombayala Devi as they are India’s best bet for a medal. The trio stunned fancied South Korea to finish second in the 2011 World Championship, which also helped it qualify for the London Games.

“We have done whatever we could during training. But you can’t fully prepare for a sport like archery. You never know how the conditions would be on a particular day. To win an Olympic medal is a dream for all of us and we are keeping our fingers crossed,” said Deepika, who has become the centre of attraction after reaching the top spot in the FITA rankings.    

The unit is likely to be benefited from arriving here 10 days in advance. Women’s coach Purnima Mahato told IANS the archers have overcome minor cough and cold and have adjusted to the unpredictable London weather.

“It was cold when we came here last week from contrasting weather in Kolkata. But all of them are in good health now and are training twice in the day. Having said that, it’s difficult to predict how many medals we will win.

The wind is going to be crucial. A score between 225-230 should be enough for a medal,” said Mahato, adding Italy, South Korea, China and Chinese Taipei will be their principal rivals.

The men’s team of Tarundeep Rai, Rahul Banerjee and Jayanta Talukdar, too, is capable of a podium finish. The fact that the World No. 3 team qualified for the Olympics at the 11th hour will give them a push to rise to the occasion.    

“We qualified almost at the 11th hour and that gave us not much time for good preparation. But, we don’t mind that as archery is a sport where performance on the day matters most,” said Rai, referring to their qualification during the Ogden World Cup last month.

In singles, he lost the bronze play-off by a whisker. Besides Bombayala, Tarundeep is the only one who has Olympic experience. With the current venue being Lord’s, the Athens 2004 participant is hoping the hallowed stadium will bring them success as it did to the cricket World Cup winning team in 1983.   

The men will have to battle with their counterparts from Ukraine, the US, France, South Korea and China.

The individual round will kick-off on Sunday and the whole of India will be pinning hopes on Deepika. She has been in top form and recently won the World Cup in Antalya, Turkey.  
The Tata Archery Academy protege is a former cadet and youth World Champion. She made headlines after winning the individual and team gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

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