One major hurdle has been cleared for the Indian archers who will be competing in the Rio Olympics. With the Games Village being considerably far from the venue, the Indian archers have now got an all-clear to stay in a hotel closer to Sambodromo, where the archery competition will be held. Sambadrome, situated at the heart of the city, is the home of the famous Rio Carnival.

“When we attended the Rio Test event last September, we figured the venue was too far and that could affect the performances. Many participating federations had also discussed the possibility of staying closer to the venue. We had made reservations in a hotel. Now we can confirm our booking,” Anil Kamineni, secretary general of Archery Association of India, said.

The women’s recurve team sealed the Olympic quota by securing a silver medal at the World Championship in Copenhagen, Denmark, last July, while Mangal Singh Champia earned a berth in men’s individual section. The Indian men’s team will get a final opportunity to book the remaining two spots at the World Cup (Stage 3) in Antalya, Turkey, from June 12-19.

The AAI is leaving no stone unturned to grab all the available berths and aim for medals. The archers have had rigorous training camps in Jamshedpur (January-February) and Delhi (March-April) and are now training at the SAI Centre in Bengaluru.

“We have been shifting the camps to different locations keeping the Rio weather conditions in mind. In Rio, the archers will be shooting from a raised platform and there is also a possibility of floodlights being used. We have set up a similar infrastructure in Bengaluru to give our archers the best possible preparation,” the AAI general secretary said.

After much hype, the Indian archery team failed miserably in the 2012 London Olympics. The debacle was mainly attributed to the nerves getting the better of the players. This time, they are not taking any chances. Mental conditioning has been a prime focus of the training camp.

“We have international experts coming in and talking to our archers. They also had a session in Korea last year and now we have a conditioning coach with them throughout. The training programme has also been designed in such a way that they are exposed to rigorous competition,” he said.

The federation will hold a final selection trial on May 13-15 to choose the six archers (three men and three women) who will represent India in the Olympics.

“It has been a strenuous selection process. We started with a big squad, and have been eliminating archers through direct competitions. We have pruned it to four now. The final men’s and women’s team will be decided by May 15,” Kamineni said.

In case the men’s team fails to qualify, it will have another selection trial to finalise the lone representative.