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Olympics 2024: Indian archers look to cash in if South Korea slips

Such is the depth of talent in South Korea that many see the task of making the Olympic team as even more difficult than winning a medal at the Games.
Last Updated : 08 July 2024, 07:26 IST

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South Korea have topped the archery medals table at every Games since their home Olympics in 1988 but there are signs their dominance may be fading as a host of other nations, most notably India, close the gap.

The Koreans, who debuted in the Olympic archery competition at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, have won a total of 43 medals - 27 gold, nine silver and seven bronze - and have won every women's team event since it was introduced in 1988.

However, their below-par performances at pre-Olympic and World Cup events suggest they may struggle to maintain their grip on the major medals in Paris.

At the Antalya World Cup in Turkey in June they failed to medal in the women's individual event while winner Kim Woo-jin was the only South Korean on the podium in the men's event.

Such is the depth of talent in South Korea that many see the task of making the Olympic team as even more difficult than winning a medal at the Games.

An San will not be defending her individual title in Paris after failing to make the cut at the national trials in March.

The 23-year-old, despite being the target of online harassment for her short hairstyle, became the first archer to win three gold medals at a single Olympics in Tokyo.

While the likes of China, France and Germany will look to exploit any South Korean weakness in Paris, India may prove to be the surprise package.

India, who have never won an Olympic archery medal, will send a full six-member contingent to Paris to compete in all five events for the first time in 12 years after the men's and women's teams secured quota paces based on the final world rankings updated in June.

Dhiraj Bommadevara, who won silver at the Asian Continental Qualifier in Bangkok in November, earned India's first individual quota spot in the men's event and is determined to write a new chapter in his country's Olympic history.

"It's all about getting the first Olympic medal," he said after leading India to an historic team gold at the Shanghai World Cup in April.

"We are only focusing on gold because nothing is impossible. We are tired of working very hard and not getting any medals. For Paris, we are just preparing and working very hard."

Bommadevara was joined by 40-year-old Tarundeep Rai and rising star Pravin Jadhav for the victory over the South Koreans in Shanghai to claim a first men's crown in 14 years.

There is promise on the women's side too with teenager Bhajan Kaur, who won a mixed team bronze with Bommadevara in Antalaya, joining the more experienced Deepika Kumari, who is on her way to her fourth Olympics.

Kumari, a former world number one, returned to the international arena after a 14-month break following the birth of her first child in 2022.

She has been in great form, winning gold in the women's individual event at the Asia Cup in Baghdad in February and silver at the Shanghai World Cup in April.

Archery will be held on the Esplanade des Invalides from July 25 to Aug. 4.

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Published 08 July 2024, 07:26 IST

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