Mixed year for Indian archers as slump in recurve continues

Mixed year for Indian archers as slump in recurve continues
Indian archers had their share of hits and misses but the sport made little headway on the whole as they continued their slump in recurve section in 2014, a trend that doesn't augur too well with the Rio Olympics less than two years to go.

Recurve being the only competitive category at the Olympics, Indian's steady decline should be a cause of concern, as six quota places for Rio would be up for grabs in the World Championships, slated to be held in Copenhagen from July 26 to August 2 next year.

On paper, however, 2014 was a feel good year for Indian archery as the arrow shooters, bolstered by the inclusion of compound section at the Incheon Asian Games, had their best ever show -- one gold, one silver and two bronze.

All the medals came in the compound section, even as the recurve archers, who had bagged one silver and two bronze at the 2010 Asian Games Guangzhou, drew a blank in Incheon.

Abhishek Verma was the star of Incheon archery contingent, bagging one team gold and one individual silver.

Deepika Kumari and Co's failure in the recurve section was somewhat compensated when Uttar Pradesh boy Atul Verma won a bronze in men's individual recurve event at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.

The 17-year-old from Barabanki beat Turkey's Mete Gozoz 6-4 (29-28 30-29 27-27 29-30 29-29) in the play-off to give Indian archery the best moment of the year on August 26.

Summing up the feat, the sport's first Dronacharya Sanjeeva Singh said: "We have had medals at the World, Asian and Commonwealth level but an Olympic medal was eluding us. Not anymore, this should inspire the youngsters in the years to come."

Coming from UP Sports Hostel in Sonbhadra, a town 108kms away from Banaras, Verma was picked by the Army's Olympic grooming centre (ASI) in Pune. But now it would be a challenge for him to graduate to next level with the Archery Association of India seeming to have lost focus in the recurve section.

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