Consistency is the key for Indian archers (Preview)

August 8th, 2008 - 3:43 pm ICT by IANS  

By V.Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 8 (IANS) Indian archers need to be consistent with their arrows and also hold their nerve in crunch situations as they look for their first ever medal from Olympics, beginning Saturday. India have entered in three of the four events - men’s individual, women’s team and individual - and the archers are practising hard at the 5,000 capacity Olympic Green Archery Field under the supervision of South Korean coach Wang Woo Lee.

Archery enthusiasts are banking heavily on the women’s team to ensure a podium finish, and the most experienced of them all - Dola Banerjee - feels a lot would depend on the ability of the two youngsters in the side to handle the pressure of the big event.

National champion Laishram Bombayla Devi and Vardeneni Pranitha are both first timers in the Games, while Dola had a forgettable outing in the Athens Olympics four years back.

Dola, who turned 29 last Saturday, said: “If they (Bombayla and Pranitha) are not overawed, we will do well”.

Dola did the country proud by claiming the gold at Dover in the fourth leg of the 2007 World Cup meets, before winning the title at the World Cup final at Dubai in November.

However, in the run-up to the Olympics, Dola has not been in the pink of form. But the Baranagar-born archer thinks she is peaking at the right time for the Games.

A lot would depend on the performance of the troika in the ranking event Saturday, as a good show would pit India against a lesser-known side in the knock-out rounds.

In the ranking round, archers will shoot 72 arrows at a target 70 meters away in 12 ends of six arrows each.

“Our biggest chance is in the women’s team event. If they manage to finish among the first five or six sides in the ranking competition, then they have a good chance of making it to the semi final,” said an upbeat Archery Association of India general secretary Paresh Mukherjee.

“But one needs some element of luck to triumph in knock-out matches. Anything is possible,” he said.

Manipur girl Bombayla has been in good shape for the past one year, while Pranitha got valuable experience competing in the last two World Cups.

In the men’s competition, Mangal Singh Champia would be the sole Indian representative.

The Railwayman has been in fine fettle in recent times, and narrowly missed the world record in the third World Cup leg at Antalya. However, winning a medal could prove to be too stiff a target for him.

“I know Olympics is a tough competition, but we should not look at others but simply try to do our best,” he said as the Indian contingent came out for the flag-hoisting ceremony Thursday.

But more than anything else, the Indian archers need to keep their composure on crucial points. Twice in the past, the Indians have squandered gilt-edged opportunities after raising hopes of a good finish.

In the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Limba Ram became a bundle of nerves and missed a medal by one point in the 70-meter segment.

Satyadev Prasad came tantalisingly close to upsetting the then world number one Im Dong Hyun of South Korea in the pre-quarters at Athens, but lost out on the last arrow as his nerves deserted him.

Notwithstanding the earlier heart-breaks, Mukherjee displayed oodles of confidence. “This time our girls are all geared up to compete, and it is not about only participating. It is about performing to full potential and winning a medal”.

Sixty-four top female archers and the same number of male competitors are vying for the four gold medals at stake in the discipline.

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