Right on focus

Right on focus

She started dabbling in archery at the age of nine but did not really take to the sport at all initially. “I found it boring and slow. It’s only after I won several competitions at the state-level that I realised that I had a penchant for it and began to devote myself to it entirely,” says Dola Banerjee, India’s most prolific woman archer.
Her sibling Rahul is also an accomplished archer and a member of the Indian team.The two live and train at the Salt Lake training camp in Kolkata during the week and go home to their parents for weekends.

“During the week, we have a gruelling training schedule but at weekends, we go home for some parental TLC (tender loving care) and my mother’s wonderful home-cooking, which is a welcome break. The food at the camp becomes very monotonous,” she smiles.The demure, soft-spoken athlete, clad in an olive green salwar kameez is as far from a Laura Croft action-type figure, handling a bow and arrow, as you can imagine. Wearing barely any make-up, with her hair held back from her face with simple barrettes, she nonetheless exudes a calm confidence and quiet charm. When she is not training at the Salt Lake camp, she goes back to her job in the Indian Railways. She learnt classical singing in her childhood but having chosen archery, which is a demanding master, Dola has not been able to pursue that area of interest.

What about personal relationships? “ Well, I haven’t had time for anything else but the sport so far. Now that I’m 29, my parents are definitely wanting me to tie the knot. But let’s see what happens,’’ she smiles non-comittedly.
She is inspired by Limba Ram, whom she considers an icon of Indian archery and attributes her tremendous success to her parents, the Tata Archery Academy and Korean coach Lee Wang Woo, who have all played major roles in shaping her career and success. Rest and relaxation means watching Bollywood films with her family and her favourite star is Aamir Khan. Looking forward to the Common Wealth Games with a mix of enthusiasm and trepidation, the archery star hopes that more young women will enter the sport and put Indian women archers firmly on the world athletic map.

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