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Archery

Archer Dhiraj Bommadevara standing at the threshold of history

After securing his historic qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics, Dhiraj stands at the threshold of a defining moment in his career.

Archer Dhiraj Bommadevara standing at the threshold of history
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Dhiraj Bommadevara at the Asian Archery Continental Qualifiers in Bangkok where he won the quota place for the Olympics.

By

Bhabesh Agarwalla

Published: 10 July 2024 11:27 AM GMT

On November 11, 2023, recurve archer Dhiraj Bommadevara became the first Indian archer to secure a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics. He achieved this milestone by winning a silver medal at the Asian Qualification Tournament in Bangkok.

Born on September 3, 2001, in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, Dhiraj's interest in archery was born at a young age. Stories from Indian epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata sparked his fascination for archery.

As his interest grew, his father, a technical officer at the Archery Association of India, gifted him his first bow and arrow when he was five. He would soon join the Cherukuri Volga Archery Academy in 2006. He trained there till 2018. It set the foundation for his future in Archery.

Despite their financial hardships, the family supported Dhiraj's dream to become an archer. His father mortgaged his mother’s jewellery to buy him archery equipment.

Dhiraj was a dedicated learner. Since his childhood, he prioritised archery over study.

The path he chose was challenging.

“I have failed in trials for many events. I couldn’t clear the trials for the Youth World Championships in 2017, but despite not clearing the trials I was lucky to find people who believed in me," Dhiraj told Times of India referring to the support he got from the Olympic Gold Quest.

OGQ put Dhiraj into the Army Sports Institute as a civilian to train under Korean coach Kim Hagyong. His technique improved, and due to his association with army cadets, he became more disciplined in his life.

The Rise

Soon after, he started to flourish. He clinched a gold medal at the 2021 World Youth Archery Championships in the men's team event.

In 2022, at a ranking event in Hyderabad, Dhiraj achieved a significant victory by defeating his idol, Atanu Das, showcasing his rising prowess in archery.

Dhiraj got selected to represent India at the 2023 World Championships, where he finished second in the qualification round with a score of 683 out of a possible 720. But he bowed out in the pre-quarters, losing to Chilean Ricardo Soto.

In the Asian Games in Hangzhou, Dhiraj shone as part of the Indian men's recurve team event. Dhiraj, along with Atanu Das and Tushar Shelke, settled for a silver medal as they lost against Korea in the final.

Dhiraj, however, faced a major setback losing in the quarterfinal of the individual event. He shouldered the blame, citing a technical fault. He was subjected to social media trolls, too, but he never lost the ground.

Since then, Dhiraj has been a regular feature in the Indian recurve team and competed in several World Cups around the globe.

After a modest performance in the Asian Games, Dhiraj bagged bronze medals in the Archery Antalya World Cups in 2023 and 2024 in the individual category.

In the team event after getting silvers and bronzes multiple times, Dhiraj and his teammates - Tarundeep Rai and Pravin Jadhav - went to beat Olympic champions South Koreans in the Shanghai World Cup 2024 to get the gold medal for India.

Dhiraj also won two bronze medals in the mixed team category in the Shanghai and Antalya World Cup this year.

Bullseye

After securing his historic qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics, Dhiraj stands at the threshold of a defining moment in his career.

His journey, marked by perseverance and resilience, has led him from humble beginnings in Vijayawada to the pinnacle of international archery.

Overcoming financial hurdles and setbacks, Dhiraj's dedication and talent have propelled him to this momentous achievement. As he prepares to represent India on the global stage, Dhiraj is focused on fine-tuning his skills, aiming to peak at the perfect moment and hit the bullseye in Paris.

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