The record medal haul by the junior archers at Youth World Championships is a reminder to the the likes of Deepika Kumari and Atanu Das that they cannot take their places for granted, Indian high performance director Sanjeeva Singh said on Tuesday. Less than a month after the seniors returned from the Olympics empty-handed, the Indian under-18 and under-21 archers brought home some cheer, claiming a historic haul of 15 medals including eight gold at the Worlds in Wroclaw, Poland.
"Their spectacular show has opened the eyes of the seniors. Now the seniors know they are not invincible," Dronacharya awardee Singh, who accompanied the team as the chief coach, told PTI. The country's archers won five gold medals in the recurve section and Komalika Bari was the biggest positive, winning two gold and a bronze. Komalika followed up her cadet title in 2019 with the juniors crown in Poland to complete a grand double and become the only Indian after world number one Deepika to achieve the feat.
Days before heading to Poland, the 19-year-old had finished ahead of Deepika in the senior selection trials to make the cut for the senior World Championships slated in Yankton, USA, next month. "Till the Tokyo Olympics, they (the seniors) may be were thinking nobody can beat them, they're the number one. But the loss in the hands of Riddhi, Komalika and Ankita has taught Deepika that if she doesnt train hard she will not be there in the next Olympics."
"Similarly Atanu and Tarundeep... If they don't train hard, the junior are there to beat them hollow. They should have the competitive spirit. Giving competition to seniors, is a very, very positive sign for young India." None of the Tokyo-returned Indian archers could qualify from the trials held just two days after their return. In the men's team too, the junior duo of Aditya Chaudhary and Parth Salunkhe made the cut. They won the men's team gold at junior Worlds in Poland, while Salunkhe also won the mixed pair title with Komalika.
"They were extraordinary. They have the talent, potential we are very, very hopeful of them. We will have a totally different Olympics next time. We are also working on sports scinece. We are going to fight it out in Paris 2024," he said. There were no Korea and China in the Youth Worlds, but Singh said the competition was top notch and most of the matches were close. "Unlike Olympics this time, there were spectators screaming after every arrow. There was tremendous mental pressure. But our archers showed great mental character. There were very, very tough matches and most of the time the last arrow decided the fate."
The 36-member Indian contingent arrived to a rousing reception with Archery Association of India secretary general Pramod Chandurkar receiving them at the airport. The members were then felicitated by AAI president and Union Tribal Minister Arjun Munda and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur in two separate functions.
The Indian recurve archers won five gold and three bronze medals, while in the compound section they concluded their campaign with three gold, two silver and two bronze medals. Prior to Wroclaw, Indian archers have won a total of 26 medals (6 gold, 9 silver and 11 bronze) at the Youth World Archery Championships/Junior World (old name), while 15 only came from this meet.