Tokyo Olympics: India's archery pillar Tarundeep Rai will bid farewell without an Olympic medal
Hailing from the state of Sikkim, Tarundeep Rai has been the mainstay of Indian archery for a long time.
Tarundeep Rai has been a brilliant servant of the Indian archery over the years. One of the earliest star archers in the country, Rai made his international debut way back in 2003 as a 19-year-old during the Asian Archery Championships in Myanmar.
After an international career spanning close to two decades and three Olympic appearances, Tarundeep Rai is all set to bid farewell to the sport.
The 37-year-old had planned to retire after the end of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics before postponing it by a year after the Games were delayed due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Hailing from the state of Sikkim, Rai has been the mainstay of Indian archery for a long time. He has won medals at all the major tournaments, including the World Championships, Asian Championships and the Asian Games. The only major podium which has eluded him is the Olympics.
Hence, the Tokyo Olympics was a special one for Indian archery. It was the last time the country could watch Tarundeep Rai in action at the quadrennial event, and it was his last shot to earn that elusive medal.
Though almost everyone knew that Tarundeep Rai winning a medal in Tokyo might just remain a fantasy, the close followers of Indian archery were still a bit hopeful.
"Maybe if things go as per plan in Men's recurve team event, there might be a chance," they thought.
But once India was shown the exit door by heavyweights South Korea in the men's team event, the writing was pretty much on the wall for Tarundeep Rai.
The Sikkimese was not in a great touch either this Olympics. He was the worst-performing Indian in the Men's Ranking Round and almost messed it up singlehandedly for the men's team in the pre-quarterfinals against Kazakhstan.
The veteran, though, seemed to be on the top of his game in the quarterfinal against South Korea, but his best was just not enough.
In the individual event, Rai just about edged past a lower-ranked Ukrainian Hunbin Oleksii in the round of 64 before being sent packing by the first-ever Israeli archer in the Olympics, Itay Shanny, in the round of 32.
Back with #Archery - Men's 1/16 Eliminations— The Bridge (@the_bridge_in) July 28, 2021
🇮🇳Tarundeep Rai vs Itay Shanny🇮🇱
Locked 5-5 after Set 5⃣
The Israeli archer, who is the first from his country at the Games, takes it. #Tokyo2020 | #Olympics pic.twitter.com/8Gew677vHE
Tarundeep Rai might have ended his sporting career without an Olympic medal, but he sure remains one of the biggest pillars which acted as the foundation stone for the stage Indian archery has reached today.
Yes, an Olympic medal surely would have engraved Tarundeep Rai into the annals of Indian sporting history, but his contribution to the development of archery in India is nothing less.