Kapil’s Devils ruled the world by lifting the World Cup in 1983 and Dada created an uproar by taking off his shirt after the famous Natwest Trophy win in 2002 in a tightly-fought match against England. Two of the biggest and most unforgettable moments in Indian cricketing history took place in the “Mecca Of Cricket” – Lord’s. Having seen many epic battles unfold in the official home of cricket, this summer, Lord’s is the center stage for the archery event in the biggest sporting extravaganza, the London Olympics 2012.
Scheduled to be held over an eight day period from 27th July to 3rd August, with the archers positioned in front of the Allen Stand and the targets placed in front of the Grand Stand, we will be witness to some high voltage duels when 128 archers take their aim for a shot at the yellow metal. With four gold medals at stake, every archer would showcase their best efforts to grab gold on the grandest stage of them all.
If you thought Indian archers have an easy task in London, the opening days of London 2012 Olympics have definitely come as a wake-up call. Maybe the pressure took a toll on the six member Indian archery team, but none of the archers rose to the occasion, and instead had a disastrous outing during the first three days.
27th August, 2012 – Ranking round
Just as we wish for a happy ending to a film, we definitely wanted a positive start to the London 2012 campaign. But things don’t change as quickly as we hope for, especially on the bigger stages. The ranking round for the men brought us the least joy and none of the Indians showcased their best. Finishing at the bottom of the table in the team format (12th), Tarundeep Rai was the best-placed Indian at 31st out of a total of 64 archers. Rahul Banerjee was at 46th and Jayantha Talukdar at 53rd spot. The Koreans set a new world record in the process and Korea’s Im Dong Hyun also created history on the opening day by shattering the individual world record.
Meanwhile, the Indians had a little more to cheer about in the women’s category, but only just. Led by 18-year-old sensation Deepika Kumari, the Indian trio comprising of Deepika, Bombayla Devi and Chekrovolu Swuro ended on a lowly ninth spot. Deepika was at the 8th spot in the individual category, Bombayla at 22nd and Swuro ended at the 50th spot. Compared to their male counterparts, the women’s team did a decent job, though it wasn’t their best effort. Korea again proved they are the force to reckon with by notching the top spot in the women’s section as well.
28th August, 2012 – Men’s team event
The Indian archery team looked to bounce back after a disastrous opening day. They faced Japan for a place in the quarters but luck favoured the Japenese. The trio of Jayanta Talukdar, Rahul Banerjee and Tarundeep Rai, who had qualified bottom of the heap at 12th in the rankings round yesterday, were tied with their Japanese rivals at 214 after the regulation four rounds. But the team of Yu Ishizu, Hideki Kikuchi and Takaharu Furukawa edged the Indians 29-27 in the shoot-off in which each of the archers shot alternatively. The three Indians will now be seen in action in the individual eliminations rounds that will commence on Monday. The Italians came up with a spirited performance and took home the gold by defeating the Americans 219-218 in the finals. The Koreans, who lost to USA in the semis, had to be satisfied with the bronze medal.
29th August, 2012 – Women’s team event
Somethings don’t change that fast. The Indians geared up for London 2012 hoping to emulate their performance at Beijing. Considered as one of the brightest prospects for a medal, the women’s recurve team were thought to be the dark horses of the event. But after a disastrous 9th placed finish in the ranking rounds, they bowed out to Denmark 211-210 in the pre quarters. This is their first loss against their Danish opponents and it shattered the hopes of billions of Indians.
As the Indians yet again disappointed on the grandest stage, they would look to make amends for their poor show in the team event as they gear up for the individual events. Though the chances look slim based on their current form, they would be gunning for a much better performance. The entire country hopes that they can rise to the occasion. It would be disappointing if they return home empty handed. After so much hype about their chances, they need to step up and try with all their might to ambush the mighty Koreans and Americans.
Since they had a horrible outing in the ranking rounds, they would be highly motivated to outclass their higher ranked opponents in order to push themselves for a podium finish. But based on the rankings after day one, only Deepika Kumari seems to have an outside chance. All Indian hopes rest on the shoulders of the 18-year-old girl from Ranchi. She is seen as a hero in her town and many consider her stardom at the same level as that of Indian cricket team captain M.S. Dhoni in Jharkhand.
Bombayla Devi and Chekrovolu Swuro can possibly pose a threat if they are at their best. Devi showed glimpses of her class during the clash against Denmark. If she can do an encore of her performance or even better, who knows, may be she will become the new face of Indian sports. The men’s team would need to hold their nerve to inch closer to a podium finish. Jayantha Talukdar, Tarundeep Rai and Rahul Banerjee have got the experience to pull off something huge. But they need to hold off stiff competition from the Koreans and the Italians to be strong contenders for a podium finish.