NEW DELHI: After a miss at the Rio Olympics, the men’s archery team found the rhythm to ensure a team spot at the Olympics in Tokyo next year. What turned out to be a good tiding for the team was the qualification that came well more than a year ahead of the quadrennial event. The Indian men’s recurve team held their nerve to beat Canada at the World Championships in ‘s-Hertogenbosch on Wednesday.
Needing a win, the men’s team, comprising of Tarundeep Rai, Pravin Ramesh Jadhav and Atanu Das, took it close but hung on at the death. After they won the first two sets, they conceded the third but managed to tie the last stanza. They will face Chinese Taipei for a place in the last four.
Atanu, who spearheaded the team said this was special as they had not managed to qualify as a team for the Rio Games. “This is our best team in a while,” he said. “Our gelling really helped. Last time, we could not qualify as a team so this is extra special.”
The coach too sounded satisfied. “This time, we had experience as well as youth,” Surinder Singh told this daily from the Dutch city. “Tarundeep’s return was a timely boost, his experience was invaluable and Atanu knows what it takes at this level.”
But it was mixed news from the Dutch city as the women’s team failed to emulate the men. Needing to beat Belarus for a spot, the trio of Bombayla Devi Laishram, Deepika Kumari and Bari Komalika never recovered after a bad start. This is also important because it now gives the men extra time to prepare for the Games and not spend energy on trying to qualify till the 11th hour, a point echoed by former Olympian Dola Banerjee.
Deepika can earn an individual recurve berth if she wins two matches on Thursday. This means that Indians have so far earned 11 quota places.
Results: Men: India 5-3 Canada (56-55, 57-56, 54-58, 57-57). Women: Belarus 6-2 India (52-43, 52-44, 51-53, 53-51).
Quotas so far Shooting: Seven Athletics: One Archery: Three