JAYANTHA TALUKDAR and Bombayla Devi, the champions.-S. PATRONOBISH

Men's recurve National champion Talukdar is one who wants to win an individual medal at the Doha Games, writes S. SABANAYAKAN.

Not many, even in sporting circles, may know this fact, that India is No. 2 in the world in archery. After their men's team finished runner-up in the last world championship at Madrid, the psyche of the Indian archers has changed for the better. From no-hopers to medal hopes in a short period of time, the top Indian archers are aiming for a medal or two in the Doha Asian Games in December. The thoughts of doing well even extend to the Beijing Olympics, 2008. Men's recurve National champion Jayanta Talukdar of Jharkhand is one who wants to win an individual medal at the Doha Games.

The 19-year-old Guwahati-born Tata Archery Academy cadet scored a fantastic 1350 points in the FITA round, the first Indian to do so in a National meet. Talukdar has been consistent throughout the season and carried the form into the 26th senior National championship organised at the SAI, Eastern Centre, from January 30 to February 2. Talukdar won his maiden National individual title at Ernakulam last year and retained the crown by stopping Vishwash of Uttar Pradesh. The Assamese lad trains under Korean coach Chae Woong Lim and Dharmendra Tiwary at Jamshedpur.

Incidentally, Talukdar's 1350 is the new National record, surpassing Tarundeep Rai's 1325 out of 1440 points set last year.

Talukdar's teammate Rahul Banerjee, another very promising archer, had the distinction of breaking the oldest record of the competition in the 50m distance. Banerjee, younger brother of women's frontrunner Dola, shot 341 points to obliterate Limba's 332 out of 360 set at Kolkata in 1991.

Laishram Bombayla Devi was the surprise individual champion in the women's recurve event. The frail looking Manipuri lass shattered the myth that only academy boys and girls from Jamshedpur or Meerut or Moradabad Gurukul do well in archery. She is from the Sports Authority of India training centre in Imphal. The Bira Mangal College student stopped Sumangla Sharma of Moradabad Gurukul Academy (UP) in the final. The vastly experienced Sumangla was a bundle of nerves as Bombayla took a solid 13-point lead very early and maintained it to win her first National title and become the first Manipuri to achieve the feat.

Among the big names the most disappointing show came from Tarundeep Rai of Services and Satyadev Prasad of Indo-Tibetan Border Police. Rai finished ninth overall and Prasad 26th. Reena Kumari of Railways and Chekrovolu Swuro of Nagaland were the big let downs in the women's section. With youngsters like Sushma and Punya Prabha coming to the fore, the experienced duo slipped to the sixth and seventh places respectively. On the other hand, Dola Banerjee of Railways did resist the charge of the young brigade and ended fourth overall.

Significantly, recurve bow is recognised as an Olympic discipline. Compound archery, introduced in India just two years back, has made rapid strides in a very short time. This can be gauged from the fact that all the 14 records were rewritten with Jhanu Hansdah of Jharkhand accounting for five and Santosh Tamang of Services involved in the setting of three individual and one team record.

THE RESULTS FITA round overall position:

Men's recurve: 1. Jayanta Talukdar (JAA) 1350 points, 2. Rahul Banerjee (JAA) 1327, 3. Preetinder Singh Sidhu (Del) 1316. Women: 1. Sumangla Sharma (UP) 1310 points, 2. Dola Banerjee (IR) 1309, 3. Sushma (UP) 1304.

Men's compound: 1. Naresh Damor (ITP) 1353 points, 2. C. H. Lenin (AP) 1342, 3. Santosh Tamang (SCB) 1339. Women: Jhanu Hansdah (JAA) 1381 points, 2. Manjudha Soy (JAA) 1342, 3. Sakro Besra (JAA) 1334.

Olympic individual round, men recurve final: Jayanta Talukdar (JAA) 112 bt Vishwash (UP) 107. 3rd place: Rahul Banerjee (JAA) 111 bt Gurucharan Besra (SCB) 102. Women's final: L. Bombayla Devi (Mani) 111 bt Sumangla Sharma (UP) 99. 3rd place: Sushma 102 (UP) bt Punya Prabha (UP) 100.

Compound men's final: Jayantilal Nanoma (Raj) 110 (9) bt Santosh Tamang (SCB) 110 (8). 3rd place: Naresh Damor (ITB) 105 bt Sanand Mitra (IR) 103. Women's final: Manjudha Soy (JAA) 116 bt Renu Munda (JAA) 104. 3rd place: Jhanu Hansdah (JAA) 109 bt Niva Kerketta (JAA) 103.

Team championship finals, men's recurve: Services 242 bt Jharkhand 241. 3rd place: ITBP 240 bt UP 232. Women's final: UP 227 bt Jharkhand 219. 3rd place: Assam 226 bt Manipur 217. Men's compound: ITBP 245 (28) bt AP 245 (25). 3rd place: Services 252 bt Jharkhand 249.