Indian women archers off-target against China

August 10th, 2008 - 3:57 pm ICT by IANS  

By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 10 (IANS) As dark clouds hover over the Beijing sky to occasionally open up for a drizzle, the Indian women’s archery team threw away a seemingly great opportunity to get into the medal contention by going down to China 206-211 at the Olympics Sunday. Through to the semi-finals are favourites South Korea, who set a world record of 231 out of maximum possible 240, Great Britain, France and hosts China.

India, who have beaten the Chinese more than once in the past, lost when it mattered the most. The Chinese pulled away early with a consistent showing and then one horrible shot resulting in only five points put the Indians under a lot of pressure. From then on, they were always trying to catch up.

The Indian team comprised World Cup champion Dola Banerjee, competing at her second Olympics, L Bombayla Devi and Pranitha Vardhineni.

Four years ago, at Athens, the Indian team surrendered to France in the quarters by a single point.

A year ago, almost down to the same date, Indian women, spearheaded by Dola had beaten China at the cricketing Mecca Lords to win the MCC Cup.

But this time the Indians were pushed on the backfoot after that crucial error in the second end that saw Pranitha manage only a five, considered almost an off-target attempt.

China, too, had a six in the same end, but their archers’ ability to come up with perfect 10s in virtually every segment of the competition, proved crucial. That helped the Chinese build a handy lead.

By the time the archers came down to the last set of targets, the Chinese were eight points ahead. Despite the Chinese managing only a 9-9-7 from their threesome, as compared to Indians’ 10-9-9, the hosts were through to the semi-finals by a five-point margin.

The Indians did fight in the closing stages, but the lead they gave away in the second end (22-26) and then again in the fifth (23-28) proved fatal.

At Beijing, the number of arrows shot had been reduced to 24 from previous 27, all from a fixed distance of 70 metres.

“We didn’t shoot to our potential. It was not one of those matches, which we could not have won. Things simply didn’t go the way we would have liked and the pressure of performing in Olympics got the better of some of our archers,” said archery team manager K.S.Kang. “However, we still have all our archers in with a chance in individual competition.”

India’s best chance in individual matches is probably in the men’s section, where Mangal Singh Champia, who was second in the men’s ranking round, will clash with Vaezi Hojjatolah of Iran in the first round.

On his second place finish in raking round, Champia said, “I had a good feeling throughout. I led in the first half and I kept a check on wind and saw where it went. But in the second half, there was much more wind and it was also not continuous and that made things difficult.”

The Indians still in the fray in individual competition include Bombayla who will face lowly Iwona Marcinkiewicz of Poland, while experienced Dola will take on Marie-Pier Beaudet Tuesday. The third and youngest of the team, Pranitha will clash with Australian Jane Waller.

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