Indian eye: Archery
hunt for the medal

Last year in July, the Indian cricket team got hammered by England at the Lord's Test. In the last 12 months, seeing the way the team has spiralled down the rankings, it seems India can win glory at Lord's only through a sport that's not cricket.

Deepika Kumari


Number of competitors
Each country is limited to 6 athletes (3 men, 3 women). In team events, there are 3 athletes in each team. Ten nations have qualified the maximum six archers for London, including India


Indian eye: Archery
hunt for the medal
World No. 1 Deepika and five teammates have hope in their hearts and medals in their eyes 
Gagan K. Teja

Last year in July, the Indian cricket team got hammered by England at the Lord's Test. In the last 12 months, seeing the way the team has spiralled down the rankings, it seems India can win glory at Lord's only through a sport that's not cricket.

Maybe archery is the answer. Never in the history of the Indian Olympics campaigns has the mood of the Indian sports fan been as sanguine as it is this year. And among all sports, it's in archery that expectations are soaring. London marks the Olympics debut for four of the six archers, but their form and rankings inspire hope. Deepika Kumari is the world No. 1 individually, the men's team is ranked No. 2 and the women's team No. 3.

To the average Indian sports fan, it could appear that competition archery has sprung up out of nowhere, but the fact is that archery and archers have been around for several decades. It never had a high profile in the country because while the archers won many medals in international tournaments, they could do nothing of note in the Olympics. Despite several appearances in the Olympics, no Indian archer had a performance worth remembering except three-time Olympian Limba Ram, who missed a medal at Barcelona 1992 by a single point. He was practically the face of Indian archery then. Limba Ram could not script a success story himself but he retains hope of glory at the Olympics — he is the current coach of the squad. He is confident that the team would make history at London, bringing to an end a long drought in the Olympics.

With the Indian archers competing in all categories at London, Limba Ram and the Archery Association of India officials nurture strong hopes of at least two medals. They pin high hopes on both the teams to grab a medal each, but one individual is the focus of their expectations — yes, Deepika Kumari.

As per the latest world rankings released by FITA, the international archery federation, Deepika, the youngest member of the squad, is No. 1 in the world. After her performances in the recent international tournaments, she surpassed the world’s top archers from South Korea and China, becoming the first Indian to win this honour. Before her, India's long-time archery sweetheart Dola Banerjee had reached the second spot in the FITA rankings. As for Deepika, her composed attitude and ability to perform well under pressure make her the pick in the squad in London.

The Indian women's recurve team of Deepika, Olympian Laishram Bombayla Devi and Chekrovolu Swuro has emerged as a strong trio, winning various medals in World Cup stages after their qualification for London last year. They’ve had the benefit of time to get acquainted with each other's style and timing, they’ve been able to combine and strategise for the Olympics. Though Swuro and Bomabayla don't enjoy very high individual rankings (46 and 48, respectively), the three of them together have combined exceptionally well. Being second to South Korea in the world is no joke — it says a lot about their chemistry and coordination.

Coming to the men, the individual credentials of all three — Jayanta Talukdar, Rahul Banerjee and Tarundeep Rai — are enough to judge their calibre. While Talukdar became the first male archer to qualify for London, the team qualified for the Olympics at the last qualifying event in Ogden, USA, last month. Their qualification was rather dramatic as Banerjee had lost his gear on his way to Ogden. He was forced to shoot with equipment borrowed from his teammates and a few American archers. The chances of their qualification seemed bleak. But Banerjee, like a true hero, fought against all odds and helped his team bag an Olympics spot. The team is currently ranked third in the world and has won various medals in the World Cup stages in the past two years.

Confident of success in London, Limba Ram feels his wards would put up an excellent show at the Olympics. "All archers are in great form and have performed exceptionally well at all international competitions," Limba Ram told The Tribune. "They have been competing against the world's best players in the recent past and have outclassed them, which has added to their confidence. I can see my dream of an Olympics medal being fulfilled — finally!"

The archers are equally confident, though they would rather remain quiet and focus on the job at hand. Banerjee, individual champion at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, says they have done thorough groundwork in their attempts to make a mark in London.

"An Olympics medal is a common dream shared by all sportspersons and I am sure achieving it would be the happiest moment in a player's life. I am looking forward to my best moment!" said Tarundeep Rai, the first Indian to win an individual silver medal at the Asian Games.

interview: Deepika Kumari

The very mention of the Olympic Games is sufficient to give sleepless nights to the world's best sportspersons, but 18-year-old word champion Deepika Kumari's poise is remarkable. Usually shy and introverted, she's confidence personified when on the field, oblivious to all distractions. Born in the Ratu village in Jharkhand to nurse Geeta and Shiv Narayan Mahato, an autorickshaw driver, Deepika Kumari knew early where she wanted to be — at the Olympics, on the podium, kissing a yellow medal. Excerpts from an interview:

You're the first Indian woman to become the world No. 1 in archery. How confident are you about winning a medal in London?

It feels good but I am not counting on my world rank in London. It keeps on changing after a few tournaments. All I am focussing on is winning a gold medal. That is when I will actually believe that I have achieved the number one spot. It has been a dream ever since I began archery and I am confident of my chances.

This is your first Olympics, do you feel you're under pressure?

To be honest, there is no pressure. I'm treating it like just another international competition. We will be competing against known opponents, so it will not make much difference.

What special preparations did you make for the Olympics?

I've stuck to my usual training, just focusing on my shooting skills. I just want to make sure that when the time comes, I would be able to give my hundred per cent.

Will the weather in England play any significant role in the competition?

The weather plays an important role in archery and since the English weather is very unpredictable, it might affect shooting to an extent but we have learnt to deal with adverse situations.

How do you rate the medal prospects of our archers?

All the archers are at their best. If we go by the performance of both men and women archers in recent tournaments, we can expect a medal in each category we are competing in.

Chekrovolu Swuro
Born November 21, 1982
Hometown Dimapur, Nagaland
Main achievements (in team)
Silver at World Cup Stage 1, Shanghai
Silver at World Cup Stage 4, Shanghai
Silver at World Archery Championship, Italy

Jayanta Talukdar
Born March 2, 1986
Hometown Panjabari, Guwahati
Main achievements
First Indian archer to win individual gold at World Cup, in 2006 in Porec, Croatia
Team gold at 4th World cup at Shanghai, 2010

Tarundeep Rai
Born February 22, 1984
From Sikkim
Main achievements
Silver in the Guangzhou Asian Games, 2010
Team silver at 2nd World Cup at Antalya, Turkey

Rahul Banerjee
Born December 15, 1986
Hometown Kolkata
Main achievements
Team silver at 3rd World Cup at Ogden, USA, in 2012
Team silver at 2nd World Cup at Antalya, Turkey
Individual gold and team bronze at 2010 Commonwealth Games, New Delhi



Number of competitors

64 men
64 women

Each country is limited to 6 athletes (3 men, 3 women). In team events, there are 3 athletes in each team. Ten nations have qualified the maximum six archers for London, including India

The archery events are from July 27 to August 3

Indian Angle

The Indians are contesting in all events. The men's team gold will be decided on July 28, women's on July 29. Indivdual golds would be decided on August 2 for women and August 3 for men


There are four events — men's individual and team, women's individual and team

Athletes shoot from 70m away. The targets are 122cm in diameter, the gold ring at the centre (worth 10 points) measuring 12.2cm

The archery events are played in a head-to-head elimination format

All athletes take part in a ranking round. Athletes must shoot 72 arrows in 12 phases of six arrows each, with each athlete allowed four minutes per phase. The total score of all 72 arrows determines the rankings of each athlete. These are used to make the seedings for both the individual and the team events


South Korea, with 16 of 32 gold on offer since the reintroduction of archery at Munich 1972

At Beijing 2008, South Korea Korea won 2 of the 4 gold available, China and Ukraine took the other 2

South Korea's Im Dong-Hyun, with an eyesight of 20/200, is legally blind but is a multiple gold medallist at the Olympics, World Championships and Asian Games


The first known archery competition was organised in Finsbury, London, in 1583. It attracted 3,000 participants

At Athens 2004, archers competed in the Panathinaiko Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896. The stadium was built on the ruins of an ancient stadium built in 329 BC

In the 14th century, archery was considered so important to the defence of the nation that an English law made it compulsory for every man aged between seven and 60

Archery featured in the Olympics in 1900-1908 and 1920 before being dropped. It was reintroduced after a 52-year gap at Munich 1972

Hollywood actress Geena Davis took part in US trials for Sydney 2000 team. She didn’t qualify but participated on a wild card and even made the semis



Ministry OK to ioa list
New Delhi:
The Sports Ministry on Thursday approved a list of the 142-member Indian contingent, submitted by the Indian Olympics Association, for participation in the London Olympics. The Ministry has communicated in its sanction order that the IOA and NSFs would have included the support staff such as coaches, doctors, managers and officials keeping in mind the best of national interests and the sports. The contingent includes 81 athletes, 36 coaches, four managers, eight medical staff, six "P" Category officials and seven contingent officials.

Scott shoots 64 for Open lead
Lytham St. Annes, England:
It was "just like a nice walk in the park" for Adam Scott as the laidback Australian equalled the course record with a spectacular six-under 64 in the British Open first round on Thursday. The world number 13 looked poised to fire a 63, which would have tied the record for the Majors, before dropping a stroke at the 18th. "I was not expecting it to play like that at all," Scott told reporters after grabbing an early one-stroke lead over 1999 champion Paul Lawrie and 2007 US Masters winner Zach Johnson on a benign day at Royal Lytham & St Annes. "It was not what we've experienced in the practice rounds," he added, referring to the rainy, windy conditions at the start of the week. "I'm sure there are going to be some weather elements thrown so I'm just going to have to knuckle down to handle that."

Cook, trott punish south africa
Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott dominated the South African bowlers in the afternoon session on the first day of the Test as England comfortably reached 158 for one at tea at The Oval on Thursday. Although England started badly with the loss of captain Andrew Strauss to the fourth ball of the day, the seemingly indomitable Cook (69 not out) and Trott (on 68) fought back with a dogged spirit and punished anything wayward. Cook reached his half-century with a slapped pull shot off leg-spinner Imran Tahir over midwicket for four when the bowler dropped short in his length. Trott's 50 came up with possibly the best shot of the day, certainly the most elegant, when he effortlessly pushed a Dale Steyn ball through extra cover for four. England won the toss when there was rain in the air and elected to bat, before the sunshine broke through.

Wiggins closer to title
Peyragudes, France:
Spain's Alejandro Valverde won the 17th stage of the Tour de France, a 143.5-km mountain trek from Bagneres de Luchon on Thursday. Chris Froome was 19 seconds behind in second place, Briton Bradley Wiggins in third. Wiggins retained the overall leader's yellow jersey, moving within three days of becoming the first British winner of the race. Wiggins successfully negotiated the final day in the Pyrenees and put further time on his rivals. Wiggins had started the 143.5-km route from Bagnčres-de-Luchon to Peyragudes in the yellow jersey for a 10th day. — Agencies


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