Beleaguered archers hope for early resolution, may write to Rijiju

The announcement came on the the penultimate day of the selection trials for the Asian Championship. It is a big blow for the medal-fancied women’s team who are yet to secure an Olympic quota place, while men’s have already made the cut.

“All our focus currently are on the trials. We will sit together and may write to the sports minister,” the former World Championships silver medallist Bombayla Devi said, hoping that the house gets in order soon with Tokyo Olympics less than a year left.   -  Special Arrangement

With World Archery suspending the national federation on Thursday, the beleaguered Indian archers rued that there’s no end to their suffering due to the association infighting and said they are now contemplating writing to the sports minister Kiren Rijiju.

The World Archery’s decision is effective from Monday and the last event in which the archers can participate under the Indian flag is the World Archery Youth Championships in Madrid from August 19-25.

The WA will further wait till end of this month and if no solution is reached, the archers may be robbed of representing India at the Asian Championships in Bangkok in November, a continental Olympic qualification event.

The announcement came on the the penultimate day of the selection trials for the Asian Championship. It is a big blow for the medal-fancied women’s team who are yet to secure an Olympic quota place, while men’s have already made the cut.

“Now without federation, we may have to play for World Archery. We may not get benefit from the Indian government. Federation is in no mood to listen to our pleas and engaged in mudslinging with each other. We are not sure about our fate,” senior most Indian woman archer Laishram Bombayla Devi told PTI from Sonepat.

The former Olympian further said they are contemplating writing to Rijiju.

“All our focus currently are on the trials. We will sit together and may write to the sports minister,” the former World Championships silver medallist said, hoping that the house gets in order soon with Tokyo Olympics less than a year left.

Indian women’s team coach, Poornima Mahato said they have been suffering since 2012 when they first were suspended by the sports ministry for defiance of the National Sports Code.

“Let them keep fighting at the expense of archers’ fate. It’s terrible news for the players. Only the archers will be at loss, no one else will suffer,” Mahato said.

She said the top archers may get support from the sports ministry, but the remaining will be left in the lurch.

“They will not get any job or recognition. Tournaments will stop happening. At least SAI is supporting for the Olympics but if there’s no ‘India’ team in Tokyo 2020 then what’s the motivation of getting a medal?

“Even if they win a medal, it will be under the WA banner. Overall the players will suffer. It’s been going on for over seven years now but nobody is bothered. They are just busy fighting with each other. Federation is not in a position to take stand. Who will speak for us now?” she asked.

India’s lone male representative at the Beijing Olympics, Mangal Singh Champia, who is an Eastern Railway employee, said since 2012 all their promotion have stopped.

“As a matter of fact, all our promotions have stopped since the derecognition in 2012. Now we will not get any support from the federation.

“If we play under WA banner, who will support us...will it be the federation or SAI. We are clueless now. Accommodation, travel etc who will arrange.

“The ones who are government employed will not get any incentives as we will not represent our nation. There will not be any promotion. Our hard-earned medals will not carry any weight.”

Another top senior archer, who refused to be named, pointed out how the infighting cost them this year’s first International event, World Cup Stage I in Medellin in April.

He further said the men’s team does not have a coach and there’s no planning for the Olympics.

“In Korea, they prepare at least one and half years prior to the Olympics. They exactly know when to do pre-season training, when to go on a break. Here we don’t even have a national coach for years now. But they are making big statement that we are targetting Olympic medals,” he said.

Tata Archery Academy’s Dharmendra Tiwari was the head coach till Rio Olympics, but since then the AAI has resorted to a “personal coach” formula on a temporary basis.

The team members are asked to fill in their coach’s names before the start of season and the coach who has maximum wards in the team gets picked for an world event.