Rio Olympics 2016: Former World Champion Dola Banerjee expecting a strong show from Indian Archers
Two-time Olympian and Former Archery World Champion Dola Banerjee has said that she is expecting at least two medals from the Indian Archers at the Rio Olympics. The 36-year-old believes that ‘this year will change everything’ for Archery and the 4-player contingent will finally end the medal drought.
Indian archers have never won an Olympic medal but have come close on a couple of occasions. Dola herself was part of the women’s recurve teams which reached the quarterfinals of the 2004 Athens and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"This is the year which will change everything. I'm expecting at least two medals," the Commonwealth Gold medalist told PTI in an interview.
Drawing comparisons with the rise of shooting in India and how shooters have taken over from the rest of the contingent as the prime medal hopes, she stressed that a medal in Archery will help in improving the landscape of the sport in India as parents ‘won’t hesitate’ in letting their children take up Archery.
"We have seen how shooting's landscape has changed after their first medal". The first medal being the silver which Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won in the Double Trap event at the Athens Games in 2004. India then won three more medals in the next two Summer Games – Abhinav Bindra famously won the Gold medal in 2008 at Beijing as Gagan Narang and Vijay Kumar followed it up with a Bronze and a Silver respectively at the London 2012 Games.
"An Olympic medal will give archery a massive boost. Parents won't hesitate in sending their wards to take up archery. There will be more support," Dola said.
Viral fever took a toll on most of the archers at London 2012: Dola
At the last Summer Games in London, the Indian archery contingent consisted of six archers, three female and three male. The expectations were high for a medal or even two as the then-18-year-old Deepika Kumari was World no.1 and the men’s team was ranked fourth. However, a bout of viral fever took over most of the archers which affected their performance adversely.
"Viral fever took a toll on most of the archers. Deepika was sick when she left while others, including the entire men's team, followed suit and were bed-ridden. There was little time to recover," the 36-year-old said.
"Everything went haywire. The conditions were very cold and it was very difficult to shoot," she added.
The West Bengal-born archer, however, was happy that the archery team has already reached Brazil and are going through their training sessions to get accustomed to the climate and also the wind in the country. Dola also revealed that the conditions there are quite similar to that in Bengaluru.
"The conditions are quite similar to that of in Bengaluru and they are shooting really well. I don't see any reason why they won't win a medal. I'm just eagerly waiting to see that breakthrough moment," she concluded.
The contingent is currently stationed in Marica, which is almost 50kms from Rio.