Hopes of glory

Indian sports lovers, who probably lived through moments of hysteria in 2008 when the country clinched more than one Olympic medal in Beijing, are looking forward with expectations to the 2012 edition of the grand sporting event in London. Three athletes clinched medals in Beijing, making the country generate some amount of romance for games that fight hard to win the heart of the followers in a nation obsessed with cricket.
While, Boxing witnessed a tremendous revival in India, holding the hands of Olympic bronze medalist Vijender Singh who defeated Carlos Góngora of Ecuador 9-4 in the quarterfinals at the Beijing Olympics, to guarantee the bronze medal, other games like Wrestling and shooting also developed followers of its own.
Keeping tab on the probable sports that can bring home medals this year, Archery holds a special place of importance in the sporting paradigm.
The game holds a deeper connection with Indian roots as it shares a deep bondage with the country’s mythology and religion. The pages of mythology have stated that India gave birth to an exceptionally skilled archer like Arjun.
From the pages of mythology to real life, the sports have developed in India with the passage of time and have produced renowned archers over the years.
However, the game failed to top the popularity charts in a country better known for its madness for cricket.
Despite all these troubles, it is practiced by dedicated performers, who have helped in its development and recognition over the years.
Limba Ram and Dola Banerjee are such names that the world of Indian archery can easily recognize.
However, in recent years a few more players have emerged who have generated new hopes in the minds of Indian sports fanatics.
Rahul Banerjee, Jayanta Talukdar, Deepika Kumari, Laishram Bombayla Devi and Chekrovolu Swuro are the young bloods who have brought a fresh lease of air in the future of the sports in India.
Teenager Deepika Kumari can be considered one of the brightest stars shining at the moment in the sky of Indian archery.
The Jharkhand girl has impressed with her performance in several international events in recent years and that has made her one of the strong contenders to bring home a medal from the London Olympics.
She stormed into headlines this month as she won her first World Cup individual recurve gold medal recently at Antalya.
Kumari beat Korea’s Lee Sung Jin by six set points to four in the final.
In the Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010, Deepika won two gold medals, one in the individual event and other in the women’s team recurve event. She also won the Cadet World Title in 2009.
Speaking to TWF on Olympics, Kumari says, “I am not running behind the gold medal but yes I am practising hard to accomplish success so that I don’t have to return empty hand.”
Sharing fragments about her training schedule for the major sporting event, she says, “The training is as usual but the difference is we are going to Sikkim to practice as Kolkata weather is not suitable for practice. Better weather and appropriate wind matters a lot.”
Kumari assured that she is moving with a positive mindset and will give her 100 percent for achieving brilliance. “Now I have become more serious about the game. I am moving with a positive mindset. From my side it will be 100 percent,” she says on her personal expectations.
Talking about her toughest competitors, the soon to be 18 year old says: “I think it’s Koreans and Chinese. They are very confident players. Moreover, if the competitors are tough then fighting will also be interesting.”
She adds that a player who will commit minimum mistake will emerge as the winner.
“Actually, it all depends how you play at that particular situation. Anybody can beat anyone. The player who will commit fewer mistakes in the competition will be the winner,” she says.
The Indian women team comprising Deepika Kumari, Laishram Bombayla Devi and Chekrovolu Swuro looks quite promising as they have already earned Olympic quota place.
Hopes can be rested on the men’s team, where some archers will fight hard to earn Olympic berths by competing at the World Cup Stage III to be held at Ogden in USA from June 18-24.
Ace archer Jayanta Talukdar is the only one in the men’s team, who has booked his seat for the mega event so far.
The men’s team is comprised of talented players like Talukdar, Tarundeep Rai and Rahul Banerjee.
Rahul won gold in men’s individual recurve event and bronze in team event at the Commonwealth Games in 2010. He won bronze in 16th Asian Games Guangzhou 2010 in team event.
“Yes, I can do anything for promoting this sport. I just love it and I mean it when I say I can do anything for promoting archery,” Rahul says.
In Asian Games, Tarundeep became the first Indian archer to win a Asian Games silver medal in the men’s individual event.
Beijing Olympics provided India with new stars. Three men- Vijender Singh , Abhinav Bindra and Sushil Kumar- became household names by dint of their electrifying performances at the highest platform of sports.
While it was Hockey that had made India taste gold in the past, star shooter Bindra brought home the first individual gold medal by winning the yellow metal in the 10 m Air Rifle event in 2008.
Now, it will be interesting to see the dimension London will provide to Indian sports that will help in developing the spirit of the games in the country in the coming years. (TWF)