NEW DELHI: India’s archery campaign at the Tokyo Olympics ended at the exact same stage as Rio, with Atanu Das, the lone Indian left in the fray, ending up on the losing side against London silver medallist Takaharu Furukawa in the pre-quarterfinals. Atanu put up a gutsy fight against the home favourite at the Yumenoshima Park but two 8s in the first set and one in the final set proved decisive in the end against the Japanese, who went on to clinch bronze.
It was a poor start from the 29-year-old as a couple of loose arrows hit the red mark which saw him concede the first set 27-25. The subsequent sets saw a neck-to-neck battle with the second and fourth seeing identical scores from both while Atanu claimed the third.
The recurve archer from West Bengal had the advantage after the first shot in the final set but a poor 8 in the next shot ended up costing him. In his maiden Olympics at Rio 2016, Atanu had lost by an identical 4-6 margin to former Korean world champ Lee Seungyun.
Atanu has handled the pressure better than his compatriots in the individual section but this marked an end to a mixed campaign for him and his fellow archers. A disappointing qualification round saw the Archery Association of India opt for Pravin Jadhav instead of Deepika Kumari in the mixed event. It did not pan out as India succumbed to eventual gold medallists South Korea.
The men’s team failed to the same team.It was in the individual sections, where a few praiseworthy victories were recorded with Jadhav beating European Championship silver medallist and World No 2 Galsan Bazarzhapov while Atanu accounted for London Olympics gold medallist Oh Jin Hyek. Deepika also overcame Rio silver medallist Ksenia Perova before falling to eventual gold winner An San.
There was a lot of hype prior to the Games with medals being discussed as a possibility but the age old problem of handling nerves proved to be the deciding factor one more time. “We need proper planning and strategy to excel at these Games. We have learnt a lot and it’s about keeping your nerves stable. Looking forward to the World Championship and World Finals now,” Atanu said. “In the Olympics, every match is different, the situation, mindset, everything is different,” Das added.
“Maybe, I took too much tension, it’s a game we have to deal with. Next time, I will try harder.” Proper planning and strategy includes a full-time national coach and mental trainers for all. There were talks of hiring a foreign coach but that died down as the pandemic struck last year. Players did have mental trainers but that could be more beneficial if used for the long haul.