Indian archers leave for Germany eyeing Olympic berth


Kolkata : With an eye to qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a 12-member Indian archery team Tuesday left for Germany to participate in the 44th World Championship, commencing in Leipzig from July 7.

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If India managed to secure a position in the world meet, the team would qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

India is one of the favourites in the recurve bow event in the world after successive positive results in the last two world meets in New York and Madrid, where the men's team secured the fourth and second positions respectively.

In Leipzig, India is expected to retain its position at least, if not better it.

The team left after 60 days of gruelling training sessions and participation in three tournaments.

"Our main focus is to get Olympics berth both in the team and individual events. If this target is achieved we can plan for the Beijing Olympics in a big way," Paresh Nath Mukherjee, vice-president of Archery Association of India and technical committee chairman, told IANS.

The 12-member team has six archers each in recurve and compound categories.

Asked if India would better its position in the recurve category, Mukherjee said, "I cannot say that our prospects are better than the last two events. But we have practised hard. We have to maintain the level of performance and then only can we hope for a good result."

The Indian team would be up against traditional powerhouses like Australia and US besides Asian rivals like Korea, China, Chinese Taipei and Japan.

"Among the Asian competitors, Korea are world beaters. But we are at par with the other three Asian countries. In the present system of 24-arrow competition, one poor shot can ruin the whole process," Mukherjee said.

In the men's department, the seasoned Tarundeep Rai would accompany 21-year-old promising Rahul Banerjee and comeback man Somai Murmu.

"While Rahul and Tarundeep have been consistent, Somai has made a comeback after seven years and is in prime touch. He could emerge as the ace," Mukherjee said.

"If I can maintain this level of performance, then I can hope to do well," said Rahul.

In the women's meet, seasoned campaigners Dola Banerjee and Chekrovolu Swuro have a young colleague in L. Bombayla Devi.

India's top woman archer Dola Banerjee said: "A few years ago we were under no pressure to perform and went all out to beat higher ranked teams. Now every country is wary of India."

She also felt that a few changes in rules in the team and individual Olympic rounds have made life more testing for the archers.

Previously a team was allowed to shoot 27 arrows, now it gets only 24. Earlier, in the individual Olympic round preliminary stages, an archer was allowed to shoot 18 arrows and in the later stages 12 arrows. Now this has been standardised to 12 arrows all through.

"The changes made in 2006 did hit us hard. One bad shot is enough to put you out of a contest," she said.

The compound bow event holds no hopes for India as it was introduced here only in 2001.

World meet squad:

Men: Rahul Banerjee (SPSB), Tarundeep Rai, Somai Murmu (both Services).
Women: Dola Banerjee, L. Bombayla Devi (both Railways), Chekrovolu Swuro (Nag).

Men: Jayantilal Nanoma (Raj), Ch. Lenin (AP), Chungda Sherpa (Ser).
Women: Jhano Hansdah, Bheigyabati Chanu, Sumanlata Murmu (all Jharkhand).