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Archery: Even after winning a galore of medals, Rajat Chauhan is upset over Olympics participation

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Even after winning a galore of medals over the past decade, ace Indian compound archer Rajat Chauhan seems frustrated. The 24-year-old archer is in anguish as he will not be allowed to take part in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 as compound archery has not received a green signal in the biggest sporting stage of the planet.

Rajat had won a silver in 2015 World Championship, a feat that is still unmatched by any other athletes (including recurve category) in the history of Indian archery. On May 25, he was a part of the bronze-winning at the World Cup stage III.

Rajat shifted to compound from recurve category in 2016 that earned him a place in the Rajasthan state team with only four months’ practice at Swai Man Singh Stadium archery camp. His performance eventually earned applauds in the national championship that year. However, Rajat had to return to the compound category in 2017 and he held his former state government for the setback.

En route to India from Turkey, Rajat spoke to The Bridge from Istanbul. He lamented, “After I returned to Jaipur with a gold medal in 2014 Incheon Asian Games, the BJP led-state government in Rajasthan announced a job for me along with incentive. I planned that with a secured job, I could shift from compound to recurve category to be a part of the Olympics. But even after two years, I didn’t get the job I was ensured. My coaches, Jiwanjot Singh, Ganeswar Manga advised me to come back to compound category. Again in 2017, I resumed training in compound archery. If the government had kept its promise I would have already got into the national squad and had experienced the taste of participating in the Olympics.”

Rajat Chauhan (centre), Aman Saini and Abhishek Verma (right) with their silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games.

The 2015 Arjuna award winner added, “I can guarantee that I will win medals in the Olympics. But I desperately need a job.”

He has not forgotten the struggle and the sacrifice his father and his elder brother did for his progress. Rajat still remembers the incident in 2011 when he broke his bows and his father Tarachand Chauhan sold off their car to buy a new bow, which costed lakhs.

Tarachan is an advocate who does not have regular work. Rajat still remembers his elder brother Vimal Chauhan’s inspiration at a time when the young archer did not want to go to school.

Rajat recollected saying, “It was my elder brother who forced me to choose a game and continue it seriously. I started with Taekwondo, then I shifted to archery and began to train with the bow and arrows, made of bamboo. Within a few months, I took part in a tournament which resulted in utter frustration for me.”

Rajat smilingly continued, “I was the fourth member of the team and the first thee archers were given gold for being champion. But I returned empty handed! That incident changed my mentality. I grew serious about the game.”

Rajat’s aim is now to convert the silver medal to the gold in the forthcoming World Championship to be held in the Netherlands in the first week of June. He is now harbouring new hopes that the present Congress government in his state will offer him a job finally and then he will let his dream come true.

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