When you talk about Kolkata and sports, people usually think about a packed Eden Gardens stadium or Mohun Bagan taking on East Bengal FC. One reminisces about the famous 2001 Test match between India and Australia, and BCCI President Sourav Ganguly.
Amidst all this is a man by the name of Atanu Das, who goes about his business quietly, bringing laurels to his country.
Born in Baranagar, Kolkata, Atanu Das took up a sport which most Indians don't usually grow up dreaming to play. Archery. In 2019, Das won three bronze medals in the Asian Archery Championships following which he has been preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.
Sportskeeda caught up with Atanu Das for an exclusive conversation in which he talked about the details of his practice, moments from his career and his goals.
Q. Take us through the time when you started archery in India and when did you think of becoming a professional?
Atanu Das: I knew that archery isn't a very popular game in India but I thought let's try to make it as popular as I can. It's a traditional thing and we should not forget it. I thought of archery as an international career when I won my first individual gold in my very first recurve tournament back in 2007 which was a sub junior national archery championship.
Q. What is your training schedule and how did you train during the lockdown?
Atanu Das: First, 9 AM to 12 PM and then 3 PM to 6 PM, this is shooting arrows. After 6 PM, I do my workout and in the early morning, I prefer performing yoga and engaging in meditation. I was at home during lockdown, I was active with 10 meter shooting. Apart from that, I did yoga and fitness exercises. Basically, I was working on my mind to get better results.
Q. According to you, how important is it for an archer to practice continuously?
Atanu Das: It is very important because archery is all about perfection and you have to control everything within you so you definitely have to keep in touch with your skill to develop the muscle memory.
Q. For an archer, focus is a very important trait to have. Can you elaborate on the physical and mental needs of archery?
Atanu Das: First of all, you have to be fit enough to stand for the whole day and maintain your skill till you are shooting the last arrow. You have to be mentally relaxed and strong all the time to be in a good position.
Q. How big a role does weather play in archery and how do you practice for different weather conditions?
Atanu Das: The thing is that archery is an outdoor sport and we have to do our best in every kind of weather. We do heavy wind training, we do heavy rain training as well. If there is any kind of weather condition, it's all the same for all archers those who are participating on that day. So, it's your preparation and smart work which takes you ahead.
Q. . Archers usually have a disproportionate body because there is more muscle in one arm than the other. Why is it so and is it something that you've to tackle?
Atanu Das: Yes. It's because we train for eight hours a day where one arm is pulling all the time and we shoot around 600 arrows a day. To maintain the balance, we do more exercises with the opposite hand during workout.
Q. Countries like US are using infra-red cameras to train their archers. South Korea uses stadium like simulation. How are the facilities in India when compared to these countries?
Atanu Das: Nowadays, India is upgrading from everywhere. I don't feel any difference between Indian archers and these countries. It's only in the mind.
Q. Talk us through your Rio Olympics experience and the biggest learning you took from that.
Atanu Das: I lost in Rio. Maybe that was my best effort at that time but I learnt so many things and that made me a better sportsman. I identified all the mistakes and then I started to work on those points after Rio and I got better. The results in 2019 show that I am working on the right track and I have kept upgrading myself.
Q. What was your reaction when you won the Arjuna Award?
Atanu Das: I was very happy and super motivated at the same time. My happiness got doubled when Mr Dharmandra Tiwari got the Dronacharya Award at the same day for archery.
Q. How did you feel about the postponement of Tokyo Olympics?
Atanu Das: It was not good but in this pandemic there was no option so in that way it was a fair decision. If we cannot do anything about the situation then we should accept it and work accordingly.
Q. Any message you want to give to the nation?
Atanu Das: I am pretty confident of giving my best shot at the Tokyo Olympics next year. Yes, thank you so much everyone for your love and support. Keep the blessings for the Olympics and I will show good archery. Jai Hind!Published 21 Sep 2020, 17:46 IST