Lack of experience may have cost India dear: Dola Banerjee
Lack of experience could be the prime reason why the Indian women's recurve archery team missed Olympic qualification for the first time, feels former World Cup champion Dola Banerjee
Lack of experience could be the prime reason why the Indian women's recurve archery team missed Olympic qualification for the first time, feels former World Cup champion Dola Banerjee who said the troika should have featured another seasoned name along side the accomplished Deepika Kumari. For the first time since the women's team made its Olympic debut in Athens 2004, India will not have representation at the Games after the trio of Deepika, Ankita Bhakat and Komalika Bari lost to lowly Colombia in their opening round of the Final Olympic Qualifier in Paris on Sunday.
"It's hard to believe, the women's team were favourites to win an Olympic medal and they could not even qualify," two-time Olympian Dola told PTI. Having qualified as second seed with Deepika shooting top individual score of 674 in the morning session, all hell broke loose in the elimination round as she shot a poor five to start off the second set. Her inexperienced partners failed to make amend as India lost in straight sets with scores of 54, 49, 52.
"It's not that Colombia won by shooting well but our scores are way below their average shooting scores of 57-58 in practice. You just can't win with these scores at that level. Colombia took it easy once India shot 49 and failed to equalise in the second set." After India had failed to qualify from the 2019 World Championships, India made a solitary change to the side, bringing in lefthanded Ankita Bhakat in place of senior most Laishram Bombayal Devi, a three-time Olympian.
"I can't say we would have qualified if we had Bom (Bombayala) but experience definitely counts. When you have two experienced archers one can make up for another's bad shot. But if a senior falters, juniors get more nervous. Ankita and Komalika had little experience at this level," Dola remarked. On the selection, little could be done as the federation picked the team from the selection trial, she added. India will now have four archers in Tokyo, with the men's team of Tarundeep Rai, Atanu Das and Pravin Jadhav, while Deepika will be the sole entry in the women's section, in her third successive Olympics.
"I'm sure she (Deepika) will be feeling very bad but it's time to look forward, no point thinking about the past. She has a bright chance in both individual and mixed pair events, and who knows -- we will win our first Olympic medal in Tokyo... We have to start afresh and think about what's next." India did not send any archery team to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 due to lack of preparation but since 2004, the women's team have been participating regularly. Former secretary general of Archery Association of India Paresh Nath Mukherjee said there's still hope. "We can't be pessimistic just because of this with just one month left for the Olympics. It's definitely sad but we still have a lot of hopes from our archers," Mukherjee said.