Education: B.A. First year
Discipline: Recurve archery
Beginning: For a 10-year-old girl, whose father does not have a regular occupation and mother is an anganwadi worker, taking up a sport is not an ideal option. But Komalika Bari, who had developed an interest in archery by watching other bow and arrow wielding kids in Jamshedpur, was lucky to get the full backing of her mother. She cleared a series of tests, such as stability, and strength and balance, to get enrolled at the Indian Steel Wire Products (ISWP) training centre. She learnt the early lessons of archery in a typical Indian way — with bamboo bow and arrows — in 2012. In her four-year stint at the ISWP centre, Komalika had a taste of competitive archery as she participated in various state and National level events.
Noticing her talent, her first coach Sushant Patro asked Komalika to try getting into the famous Tata Archery Academy (TAA). Komalika went through the trials in 2016 and came third among the five trainees selected to be trained at the TAA. This was a significant stage in the teenager’s career as she graduated to the next level by getting exposed to recurve bows, which is a part of the Olympics.
As she learnt the ropes in the real game, Komalika did not achieve immediate success. Following a forgettable 2017, the Jharkhand girl gathered some confidence by shining at the indoor meet in Kolkata the following year.
The year 2019 was a turning point for Komalika as she bagged the top honours in women’s individual event in the Pune Khelo India Youth Games, where, previously, she had failed to make an impact. She continued with her fine touch to claim the title in the National junior championships in Bhopal and three medals in the ISSF international solidarity archery championships in Dhaka.
Komalika joined hands with Deepika Kumari, Ankita Bhakat and Susmita Biruly to take the women’s team silver in her maiden National championships in Cuttack and followed it up by bagging the third spot in the star-studded selection trials in Bhubaneswar.
She overcame a dip in performance in the World championships in Den Bosch, Netherlands, to land a gold medal in the women’s recurve individual cadet category at the World youth championships in Madrid a few months later.
Bubbling with confidence after winning the World youth title, Komalika is aiming at qualifying for the Olympics. Her ultimate dream is to claim a gold medal in the mega event. She knows that the path is not easy as two qualifying events — the World championships and the Asian qualifier — are already over. However, she has not given up on her quest to be at the quadrennial showpiece.
Strong points: Komalika is gifted with natural strength and inherent confidence. She tries to take the positives from an outing and quickly rectifies her mistakes to get better in future events. Her World youth crown has instilled a lot of self-belief in Komalika.
What they say
Coach Purnima Mahato: When Komalika joined the TAA, she possessed good strength to become a fine archer but had certain issues related to her release and bending of the bow hand. We worked on these areas and she got better with practice. The best thing about Komalika is she is a quick learner. She catches the finer points fast and implements them sooner than later. She was heartbroken after her disastrous performance in the World championships in Den Bosch. She cried a lot as some people taunted her after the bad showing. Actually, she got nervous at the big stage and never told us about it. Otherwise, we, the coaches, would have guided her. Later, I told her to leave the bad performance in the Netherlands and move on. She promised me that she would work harder to show the world that she was a better archer. She has a long way to go before she could be a contender for an Olympic medal.
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