No future in Indian Archery – National Games winners dream of switching to Recurve
There was a common feeling amongst all the medallists as the curtains were drawn on the Indian Round Archery at the 2022 National Games – switching to recurve archery as soon as possible.
While financial problems have held a few back from switching and making it just a dream, the others reveal they just wanted some experience in the sport before taking the plunge.
"I would have switched to recurve a long time ago, but our financial condition means that I have to continue with the Indian bow," Indian round men's individual champion Goldi Mishra told The Bridge after his win.
An 11th-grade student, Mishra hails from rural Jharkhand. The 16-year-old took up the sport when he was merely 10-year-old in 2017 with the hope of pulling his family out of poverty.
Goldi started off with the Indian bow, but little did he know he might have to switch to the more expensive version of the sport to realise his dreams.
"I dream of switching to the recurve bow, but it is going to be tough given our financial condition. But to realise the Olympic dream and help my family, I will have to do it soon," said Goldi, who has never even touched a recurve bow in his life.
Manipur's Okram Naobi Chanu, who bagged the women's Indian round individual title and took home the silver in the women's team event, too echoed the same sentiment.
"Yes, I want to switch to recurve and try to qualify for the Olympics. But I do not know when that will happen, because I had the same thought when I won the individual silver during the 2015 National Games in Kerala," the 26-year-old said.
When enquired about why she did not make the switch, Okram just had a wry smile.
The gold medal-winning Kerala women's team also has the same aspirations.
"There is no future in Indian archery. I mean we cannot really stick to this and be happy with our achievements inside the country. We want to compete internationally and bring medals for India and Kerala," said archer Jesna, while the rest of the team just nodded in agreement.
"For now, all we want is either for the government to support us, show some respect to Indian bow archers or possibly help us make the switch to the more expensive," Jesna, who is the daughter of a widow added.
The silver-medallists in both the men's and women's individual competition revealed that they are sure they will make the switch.
"I will now switch to recurve. It is a no-brainer if I am to compete at the Olympics," said men's silver medallist Azadveer Singh, whose sister also competed at the National Games in Indian round.
"I have used a recurve bow before, it is a bit tougher but I am confident of doing well," he added.
The women's silver medallist Amita Rathva – a tribal girl handpicked by the Sports Authority of Gujarat eight years ago, stated that she will make the switch within two months.
"Yes, I am thinking of taking the recurve bow in hand within the next two months. I have used it before a couple of times and do not feel it will be very difficult," said the 19-year-old Rathva, who also won the bronze medal in women's team.
Indian bow might die down soon
A coach present at the Sanskardham Sports Complex during the finals stated that he feels that the art of the Indian bow might cease to exist soon.
"You might feel it is all archery, it is all the same. But, there is a lot of difference between handling a recurve bow, a compound bow, and an Indian bow. A very few take up the Indian bow and it might die down soon," he said.
"It is true to an extent that there is no real future with the Indian bow. I mean as a sportsman you want to represent your country internationally. It is clear you cannot do that with the Indian bow with no international competitions, so it is better to take up recurve or compound," the coach smirked.