The Indian contingent for Rio Olympics 2016 includes four members – Deepika Kumari, Bombayla Devi, Laxmirani Majhi and Atanu Das. These four archers will be representing India in the women’s team event, women’s individual event and men’s individual event and Indian fans have pinned their hopes on this quartet to land us our maiden Olympic medal in this event.
However, this is not the first instance when India is participating in the Olympics in the archery event, having made her debut in the event in 1988. In the six Games we have participated in, we have had limited to no success in the event, but the four archers this term have the pedigree in them to end India’s long barren run in the event.
We took a look at India’s performance since the 1988 Seoul Games:
1988 Seoul Olympics
India was represented by three archers in their first ever event in 1988 – Limba Ram, Shyam Lala and Sanjeeva Singh. Although there were no podium finishes for our country at the Games, this proved as the springboard for future participation and the growth of archery in Inida. At the age of 16years and 242 days, Ram was India’s youngest archer at the tournament. India finished 20th in the men’s team event.
1992 Barcelona Olympics
Limba Ram, who first represented India at the Seoul Games, was again in the contingent for the 1992 summer Games along side Dhulchand Damor and Lalremsanga Chhangte. However, the trio could end India’s medal drought in the event. The men’s team finished at 16th position, while Ram was the highest ranked in the individual event at 23.
1996 Atlanta Olympics
For the third consecutive Olympics, Limba Ram led the charge for India and Lalremsanga Chhangte was with him from the Barcelona Games. The duo teamed up with Skalzang Dorje and improved on their team ranking, finishing 14th.
However, the medals cabinet was empty in this edition too.
2004 Athens Olympics
After their failure to qualify for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, India marked their return to the event in the 2004 Games. It was during these Games, that for the first time in our history a women’s team was also competing at the Olympics for top honours.
The Indian men’s team included – Satyadev Prasad, Tarundeep Rai and Majhi Sawiyan, who went on to finish 11th in the team event – India’s highest ever finish in the men’s team event till then.
The women’s team included – Dola Banerjee, Reena Kumari and Sumangala Sharma. Despite it being their first ever Olympics, the women’s team secured an 8th place finish.
In the individual event none of the archers could make their mark, with only Prasad finishing 10th.
2008 Beijing Olympics
In a first since India’s maiden participation in the event at the Games since 1988, our archers failed to qualify for the men’s team event but secured qualification in the individual event. Mangal Singh was the only Indian archer representing the country in men’s individual event.
Current Indian women’s team participant – Bombayla Devi – made her Olympic debut in 2008 along side Pranitha Vardhineni and Dola Banerjee. The trio helped India to a 7th placed finish in the team event – their highest ever finish till date.
The archers were supported by three coaches namely – Limba Ram, Purnima Mahato and Lee Wang Woo, and a manager in Kulbir Singh Kang.
2012 London Olympics
India returned to full strength for the London Games, with 3 archers competing in the men’s and women’s event each, but the pressure of expectations got the better of these archers and they were all knocked out of the Games on the opening dau.
The trio of Jayanta Talukdar, Rahul Banerjee and Tarundeep Rai were representing India in the men’s individual and team event. While Bombayla Devi, Chekrovolu Swuro along with India’s blue-eyed girl Deepika Kumari formed the women’s team. Kumari was ranked number 1 in the world at the age of 18, but the expectations of a billion people proved too much for her to handle.
India’s quest for a maiden Olympic medal in archery continues till date and one can only hope that in the next 8 days the case doesn’t remain the same.Published 05 Aug 2016, 15:50 IST