Archery at Asian Games 2018: Gutsy compound silvers save the contingent from royal embarrassment
The archery event officially came to a close at the Jakarta and Palembang Asian Games 2018. Though it was one medal-less, the Indian compound team once again kept our honour intact by earning well-fought silver medals. In fact, it was really unfortunate that the defending champions of the previous edition's men's team event lost by a whisker in the tiebreaker, following a tie of 229-229 against South Korea.
However, there were a few things to observe about India's campaign in archery at the Asian Games 2018:-
Compound: Close misses spoil the fun
As expected, the compound team, despite being denied of two additional medals as the individual categories were scrapped, performed admirably in whatever events they could participate in the compound category of archery. In the mixed pair event, India started off on a good note, qualifying for the quarterfinals. However, a slew of errors in the dying minutes cost India badly, and they lost to Iran by a close margin.
To make amends for the first miss, the compound teams stormed into the finals with ease, shocking even the likes of Chinese Taipei with ease in the semifinals. In the finals, while the women's team squandered a good lead, losing by barely 3 points to South Korea, the men's team, led by charismatic archer Abhishek Verma, held Korea in a neck to neck competition. It was only when the shoot off to break the tie began that India finally gave in, losing by a solitary point to the ultimate champions.
Recurve team campaign ends in a royal disaster
It had been eight years since archery last clinched a medal for India in the recurve category. Back in Guangzhou, while the women's team garnered a historic bronze medal for the 2nd successive time, Tarundeep Rai stunned many an expert to storm into the finals of the men's individual recurve archery, losing ultimately to the South Korean opponent.
However, that was the last time an Indian even came close to a sniffing distance of the elusive gold. Following a narrow miss in Incheon, 2018 Asiad was even more disastrous. Forget even reaching the semifinals, the best India could manage was a mere quarterfinal finish in men's individual category. Deepika Kumari touted to one of the best in her league, did not even cross the Round of 16.
Even the teams were no better. The mixed team and the men's team crashed out in the quarters, forcing the recurve archers to return empty handed once again.
Time to introspect
With this, one also needs to look back and think, if recurve archery really deserves the attention they receive before every major sporting event. Practically, there is no improvement at all since the Rio Olympics, and the quality of the Indian archers, especially in the recurve category is only deteriorating further.
With little to negligible support, the compound archers, however, are performing a notch better than their recurve compatriots. Had this not been excluded from the Olympics, the compound archers stand a better chance of winning medals at the Olympics. If recurve archery wishes to be recognized well, they need to stand out and perform well in the upcoming year, in order to be recognized as a potential bet for the Tokyo Olympics 2020.