A more than satisfying show

INDIAN archery stands at a different pedestal in the year preceding the Olympics, than what it was in 1995 leading to the Atlanta Olympic Games.

KIRTI PATIL

INDIAN archery stands at a different pedestal in the year preceding the Olympics, than what it was in 1995 leading to the Atlanta Olympic Games.

Gurucharan Besra who won the men's Olympic round final. -- Pic. SANDEEPSAXENA-

The scenario has been much better than those days when the raw talent of Limba Ram was projected as a sure medal prospect. Then, the Europeans and Koreans had laid to rest any ambitions India had. In fact, Limba succumbed to the intimidating pressure. He still continues with his bows and arrows, but shoots modest scores.

Nevertheless, India can take some hopes into the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, considering the remarkable surge in the quality and the quantity of the archers that the country possesses now. Today there are some better archers than Limba Ram — he also sneaks into the top ten, sometimes. In fact, India has an excess of over 30 good archers capable of turning good performance on any given day.

If the Gurukul academy, near Meerut, started the trend of producing archers using traditional teaching methods, the real boost, however, was given by Pune's Army Sports Institute (ASI) which embarked upon an Olympic medal programme in select sports.

Archery was one, and several promising marksmen found a proper environment, funds and backing to carry on with a passion, which nowadays has become an expensive affair.

This rosy scenario rightly reflects on India securing berths in next year's Olympic Games. India qualified in both men's and women's team events, and additionally it secured two entries in men's individual and one in women's — effectively making an eight-member team for Athens.

The big task now was that the archers maintain and improve upon the form they displayed in the New York World championship for the next one year. To assuage it, the Archery Association of India (AAI) has introduced National Ranking prize money tournaments. A series of eight such tournaments leading up to the Olympic Games will offer all-important ranking points, which would eventually add up to the qualification. And, never before archery offered assured prize money, giving an extra impetus for the archers to be serious and involved.

The beauty of such tournaments has always been manifold. One archer wins the tournament, other takes the maximum prize money and the third garners the maximum ranking points. Alternatively, if one does extremely well the archer pockets everything.

Dola Banerjee gave a decent performance to take the top position in the women's section. --Pic. SANDEEP SAXENA-

The second National Ranking tournament in Amritsar, to some extent, satisfied more than one marksman.

India's latest sensation, Tarundeep Rai of the ASI, shot extremely good scores in the FITA and Olympic rounds. He was though unlucky and lost in the semifinals to eventually take the bronze position.

That was the only blemish in his outing at the Gandhi ground in Amritsar. Rai had a 1300-plus score in the FITA round — only Majhi Swayn was better at 1316 to his 1304. But he made up for that low round with a good score in the Olympic round. Rai (1942) topped the ranking, one point ahead of Swayn.

Though he lost in the semifinal to Uttar Pradesh's Satyadev Prasad, he continued to shoot excellent scores in the third-place play-off against Shivnath Nagasia of SAI-Kolkata. Rai lost the first match but then resolutely came up with 114 and 117 in the next two to clinch the contest 2-1. Scoring such scores out of possible 120 points was commendable.

Rai garnered 67.67 points from the second leg to swell his total points to 139.17, more than ten points ahead of Satyadev Prasad (128.10). The UP archer lost an ideal chance to catch up with Rai and take the battle into the third leg in Hyderabad. The positions in the first three tournaments would be considered for the Indian team's selection for the November 2-9 Asian championships in Yangoon, Myanmar.

Prasad stood fourth in the aggregate of FITA and Olympic rounds as he does in the prize winning list though he finished second in the tournament.

Gurucharan Besra of ASI won the tournament beating Prasad 2-1 in the final. But overall, Besra had to be satisfied with third position in the FITA and Olympic rounds, as also in the rankings. Besra had an aggregate of 107.62 points after the two tournaments and fourth position, behind Swayn (126.66).

The women's section though offered no such crisscross positions.

Dola Banerjee doled out a decent performance in winning the top position, prize and the tournament. Dola had an impressive score in the FITA round at 1313 and was followed in the second place by Reena Kumari (1301).

But in the Olympic round of 72 arrows at 70 metres, she though top-scored with 620, it is here that Dola needs to concentrate more. Losing 100 points in two rounds of 36 arrows each was inexcusable.

In the Olympic Games, there is no FITA round. That means one does not get to shoot at 60m, 50m, and 30m — the distances where most of the archers score more points. Two rounds at 70m with 36 arrows each and top 64 make up to the knock-out draw.

Shivnath, N. Ravinder and Priyank, winners of the men's team event. -- Pic. SANDEEP SAXENA-

There surely was a lesson for Dola to learn from such an experience.

For the record, Dola garnered 1933 points in the FITA and Olympic rounds and then went on to win the title beating Bhagyabati Chanu 2-0 in the final. With 39.895 points Dola topped the prize rankings ahead of Chanu (30.30). Her aggregate for the two tournaments stood at 58.895 points, a huge 13.635 ahead of Chekrovolu Swuro.

In the team championship, men's Team `C' comprising Shivnath, Priyank and N. Ravinder got the better of Team `A', which consisted of Rai, Swayn and Besra, and won 2-0 (241-239, 243-241).

But the AAI needs to streamline the composition of the teams. The team events at these ranking tournaments are being played callously with no fixed team being retained. Maybe the AAI is trying out different combinations but it hardly makes sense when top archers are separated to form different teams.

In the Olympic Games, if at all India has any chance, it would be in the team events. Which makes it even more necessary to concentrate on the blend of the team, both in the men's and women's sections.

Sumangala Sharma, Dola Banerjee and Bhagyabati Chanu led their team to a title triumph in the women's section. — Pic. SANDEEP SAXENA-

It is notable here that India is currently World ranked number four, in men's, and number six in women's, following the New York World championship in August.

The women's team title was won by Team `A', which was represented by Dola, Bhagyabati and Sumangala Sharma. The combination defeated Team `B' comprising Reena Kumari, Chekrovolu and Bansara Lindhar.

The results: Men:

Olympic round: Final (best of three matches, 12 arrows per match): Gurucharan Besra (ASI) bt Satyadev Prasad (UP) 2-1 (108-106, 108-111, 107-102). Third-place play-off: Tarundeep Rai (ASI) bt Shivnath Nagasia (SAI-Kolkata) 2-1 (108-109, 114-112, 117-108). Semifinals: Prasad bt Rai 2-0 (113-106, 112-111); Besra bt Shivnath 2-0 (104 (10)-104 (8), 110-101). Quarterfinals: Rai bt N. Ravinder (AP) 2-1 (107-108, 112-104, 111-107); Prasad bt Kailash Sharma (UP) 2-1 (106-108, 114-108, 110-103); Besra bt Vishwas (ASI) 2-0 (113-107, 111-110); Shivnath bt Majhi Swayn (ASI) 2-1 (106-100, 105-109, 110-105).

72 qualifying round score (top 10): 1. Prasad 647, 2. Besra 639, 3. Rai 638, 4. Shivnath 634, 5. Mangal Singh 630, 6. Puneet Kumar 626, 7. Swayn 625, 8. Vishwas 625, 9. Harish Kerai 625, 10. Prabhat Kumar 625.

FITA round (144 arrows), top 10 (read as total, 90m, 70m, 50m and 30m): 1. Majhi Swayn (ASI) 1316 (306, 329, 333, 348); 2. Tarundeep Rai (ASI) 1304 (298, 333, 325, 348); 3. Gurucharan Besra (ASI) 1298 (297, 321, 329, 351); 4. Harish Ch. Kerai (ASI) 1288 (293, 316, 335, 344); 5. Satyadev Prasad (UP) 1285 (293, 319, 324, 349); 6. Kailash Sharma (UP) 1280 (287, 323, 321, 349); 7. Priyank (UP) 1280 (304, 321, 325, 330); 8. Mangal Singh (AP) 1279 (283, 313, 328, 355); 9. N. Ravinder (AP) 1276 (304, 319, 323, 330); 10. Shivnath (AP) 1273 (288, 318, 322, 345).

Team final (best of three matches, 27 arrows per match): Team `C' (Shivnath, Priyank, N. Ravinder) bt Team `A' (Tarundeep, Majhi Swayn, Gurucharan) 2-0 (241-239, 243-241). Third place: Team `B' (Satyadev, Harish, Mangal Singh) bt Team `E' (Prabhat Kumar, Robin Hansda, Manoj Kumar) 2-0 (231-226, 239-232).

Women:

Olympic round: Final (best of three matches, 12 arrows per match): Dola Banerjee (Jhar) bt Bhagyabati Chanu (Jhar) 2-0 (105 (10)-105 (7), 109-97). Third-place play-off: Chekrovolu Swuro (AP) bt Bansara Lindhar (Jhar) 2-0 (106-105, 107-101). Semifinals: Dola bt Chekrovolu 2-0 (113-103, 107-102); Bhagyabati bt Bansara 2-1 (101-100, 101-107, 103-97). Quarterfinals: Dola bt Renu (UP) 2-1 (106-96, 103-109, 108-107); Swuro bt Mamta (UP) 2-0 (109-99, 105-101); Bansara bt Sumangala Sharma (UP) 2-1 (105 (9)-105 (8), 95-103, 106-103); Bhagyabati bt Sakro Besra (Jhar) 2-0 (99-97, 105-97).

72 qualifying round score (top 10): 1. Dola 620, 2. Sumangala 604, 3. Bansara 602, 4. Bhagyabati 596, 5. Renu 595, 6. Sakro 591, 7. Swuro 586, 8. Reena 586, 9. Sushma 565, 10. Manjudha Soy 562.

FITA round (144 arrows), top 10 (read as total, 70m, 60m, 50m and 30m): 1. Dola Banerjee (Jhar) 1313 (303, 327, 334, 349); 2. Reena Kumar (Jhar) 1301 (311, 324, 319, 347); 3. Bhagyabati Chanu (Jhar) 1295 (305, 324, 330, 336); 4. Chekrovolu Swuro (AP) 1287 (306, 324, 307, 350); 5. Sumangala Sharma (UP) 1285 (304, 324, 315, 342); 6. Bansara Lindhar (Jhar) 1263 (287, 318, 312, 346); 7. Sakro Besra (Jhar) 1226 (293, 307, 294, 332); 8. Manjudha Soy (Jhar) 1224 (295, 304, 294, 331); 9. Naohmi Laloo (Jhar) 1213 (271, 324, 287, 331); 10. Renu (UP) 1208 (276, 308, 288, 336).

Team final (best of three matches, 27 arrows per match): Team `A' (Dola, Bhagyabati, Sumangala Sharma) bt Team `B' (Reena Kumari, Chekrovolu, Bansara) 2-1 (234-238, 244-226, 230-225). Third-place: Team `C' (Sakro Besra, Renu, Manjudha Soy) bt Team `D' (Mandavi, Naohmi Laloo, Sushma) 2-0 (224-205, 224-204).

Rankings (value in brackets denotes aggregate points after two tournaments):

Men: 1. Tarundeep (ASI) 67.67 points (139.17); 2. Majhi Swayn (ASI) 66.16 (126.66); 3. Gurucharan Besra (ASI) 62.62 (107.62); 4. Satyadev Prasad (UP) 60.60 (128.10); 5. Shivnath Nagasia (SAI-Kolkata) 55.55 (71.55); 6. Mangal Singh (SAI-Kolkata) 51.51 (86.51); 7. Vishwas (ASI) 50.50 (107.50); 8. N. Ravinder (AP) 49.49 (82.49); 9. Harish Kerai (ASI) 48.48 (76.48); 10. Kailash (UP) 47.47 (107.47).

Women: 1. Dola Banerjee (Jhar) 39.895 (58.895); 2. Bhagyabati Chanu (Jhar) 30.30 (36.30); 3-4. Reena Kumari (Jhar) 26.26 (41.26) and Chekrovolu Swuro (AP) 26.26 (45.26); 5. Sumangala (UP) 25.25 (37.25).