CUTTACK: The year gone by was particularly memorable for Indians in compound archery. They won medals in all four stages of the World Cup as well as in the World Cup Finals. They topped it off by claiming silver medals in the Asian Games as well.
The list is quite exhausting: mixed team bronze (Shanghai), women’s team silver, mixed team bronze (Antalya), men’s individual silver, mixed team bronze (Salt Lake), women’s team silver, mixed team bronze (Berlin) and men’s individual bronze as well as mixed team silver (Samsun).
But sadly because of the sport not being an Olympic event, most of the medal-winning archers are yet to get their due. While a few archers are yet to land a job assured to them, some are still to receive the money promised by their state or central government. On top of that, their Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme funding finished after Asiad. It is not the best of situations to be in.
Take for instance, compound individual men’s gold winner at the 39th Senior National Archery Championship in Cuttack, Rajat Chouhan. The Rajasthan athlete, a two-time Asian Games medallist, is yet to get a job in his state despite being promised one back in 2014. “I thought after Asiad gold in 2014, I would definitely get a job. The state government back then tweaked the rules in such a way that medal winners post 2016 would be eligible. Again after last year’s silver, I went and asked. But no job was forthcoming. With a new government in power currently, I’m hoping for better results.” The matter of not finding a job has haunted Punjab’s Sangampreet Bisla as well. He was a participant in Jakarta.
A different issue plagues Trisha Deb. Trisha, who is employed with South Eastern Railway, won gold in the individual women’s section. It was her first individual gold in the nationals. But she did not look that happy. “I’m yet to get money from the central government for winning Asiad medal in 2014. So there’s no point in hoping also. I’m the sole breadwinner for my family so things are not that great,” she said.
Not many people know that the women’s compound team is ranked No 1 in the world. The most consistent among them, Jyothi Surekha Vennam, is yet to get the `1 crore promised by the Andhra Pradesh government back in 2017 till date. “Equipment is not cheap. I do not blame the government but certain officials in the sports department are not doing their duty. I’m waiting for the day the entire amount is cleared.”
Most compound archers are of the opinion that since recurve is part of the Olympic programme, they get most of the monetary benefits. It includes funding either from the government or from private bodies. Many archers have pondered over the idea of switching to recurve or some other Olympic sport so as to get the treatment they deserve.
Rajat tried his luck in recurve before Rio. After 16 years of practising compound, it proved too difficult a task for him to make the switch. Now India’s premier compound archer Abhishek Verma is mulling over the idea of entering the shooting arena. “Next year there are no major events so I’m considering the possibility. Maybe I won’t be successful but at least funding won’t be an issue,” he said.
Men: 50+50: 1. Abhishek Verma (Delhi), 2. Sangampreet Singh Bisla (Punjab), 3. Rajat Chouhan (Rajasthan). Individual: 1. Rajat Chouhan, 2. Arjun Kumar (UP), 3. Praveen Kumar (UP). Women: 50+50: 1. Jyothi Surekha Vennam (PSPB), 2. Monali Chandraharsh Jadhao (AIPSCB), 3. Priya Gurjar (Rajasthan). Individual: 1. Trisha Deb (RSPB), 2. Madhumita Kumari (Jharkhand), 3. Swati Dudhwal (Rajasthan).
Men’s team: 1. Punjab, 2, Delhi, 3. AIPSCB. Women’s team: 1. MP, 2. Rajasthan, 3. AIPSCB Mixed: 1. Punjab, 2. Manipur, 3. RSPB.