The Indian archery contingent comprising Deepika Kumari, Atanu Das, Tarundeep Rai and Pravin Jadhav will be in action on the inaugural day of the 32nd Olympic Games as the individual ranking rounds for men and women will begin at the Yumenoshima Ranking Field in Tokyo on Friday.
After spending 15 months without competition due to the pandemic, the Indian archers performed creditably to land four medals in the World Cup Stage-1 in Guatemala City and then three in Stage-3 in Paris.
Even though the field was depleted in the World Cups this year, Indian archers’ sterling performance must be a huge morale booster for them ahead of the Olympics and should give them a psychological advantage.
It’s true that the men’s team has not performed up to its potential and the women’s team, which gathered two gold medals, has not qualified for the Olympics.
India’s fine showing in the World Cups was mainly because of ace archer Deepika Kumari and her husband Atanu Das’ brilliant performance.
If the couple continues with their dream form, it has the capability to make history in Tokyo and kick-start a new era for Indian archery, which has been expecting medals from the mega event for decades but has not been able to achieve that target.
The introduction of the mixed team event this time will favour India as Atanu and Deepika – following their marriage last year – have developed better chemistry between them and have been living a dream together.
A bronze medal in Guatemala followed by a gold in Paris, where they beat the formidable Lausanne leg gold medallist Dutch pair of Gabriela Schloesser and Sjef van den Berg in the final, speaks a lot about the duo’s form.
Besides, Deepika, who played a key role in India claiming three gold medals in Paris, and Atanu, who picked up his maiden individual World Cup gold apart from a mixed team bronze, must be in a good frame of mind in recent times.
In fact, the expectation will be high from Deepika who is all set to compete in her third Olympics. She will try to forget how she crumbled under pressure in the previous Games and perform with a positive attitude both in mixed team and individual events in this edition.
Atanu, too, will be eager to erase his memories of Rio and shine in Tokyo, both in team events and individual competitions.
Atanu has another chance to grab a medal as he will be part of the men’s team, also comprising the most experienced Tarundeep Rai and the young Pravin Jadhav.
The three had shown their magic, landing a World championships silver in 2019 and securing an Olympic team berth.
The 37-year-old Rai, who participated in the 2004 and 2012 Olympics, will look forward to making the most of what will probably be his last Olympics. Jadhav, known for his cool-headed approach, will be equally enthusiastic to make his mark on his debut.
Apart from the men’s team event, they will take part in the individual competition.
Before that, the first target will be to gather as many points as possible and earn good rankings in order to have a favourable draw.
Altogether 64 archers each in men and women sections will shoot in the ranking round. The women’s ranking round will be held in the morning, followed by the men.
The draws will be decided based on the performance of the archers in the ranking round.