Showing great promise

The triumphant Andhra Pradesh team, which won the overall championship.-PIC: CH. VIJAYABHASKAR

Andhra Pradesh, taking part as a united team for the last time, ended the tournament on a high note, writes J. R. Shridharan.

For Anil Kamineni, General Secretary of the Archery Association of India, the mini National Championship, involving archers of 14 years and under, was significant since the future of the sport in India came to the fore. The sixth edition that concluded in Vijayawada recently, propelled several talented archers in all three segments — Indian, recurve and compound.

Maharashtra’s Yashdeep Bhoge and Andhra Pradesh’s K. Jyoshna were the star archers and they impressed everyone with less number of wild shots. Bhoge, in a workman-like manner, released the arrows to perfection and won three golds, two silvers and one bronze medal in recurve. He dominated both the distances and the individual Olympic round.

Twelve-year-old K. Jyoshna was head and shoulders above her rivals as she notched up a striking 641/720 in 50m distance and 139/150 in the Olympic round in the compound category. Teaming up with K. Mahesh she scored a comprehensive 147-117 victory in the compound mixed event.

The Maharashtra girls dominated the recurve girls’ segment right from the start. Unnati Raut clinched two gold and two silver medals in the distances and individual Olympic round.

In the compound boys’ section, both Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra archers were involved in a keen clash and the teams, led by Mahesh (AP) and Mrudul Data (Maharashtra) shared the honours.

For Andhra Pradesh, taking part as a united team for the last time, the tournament ended on a high note as it finished on top of the medals tally with 10 gold, one silver and five bronze medals. Maharashtra and Jharkhand took the second and third places respectively.

For the Vijayawada-based Volga Archery Academy, known for producing talented compound archers, the tournament was memorable as its archers helped AP win a good number of medals in the recurve event for the first time.

Virtually Matching arrow to arrow with AP was Maharashtra, which bagged 26 medals including eight gold medals — two short of Andhra Pradesh’s haul.

“Archery is flourishing in Maharashtra with academies honing the skills of budding archers in Pune, Nagar, Solapur and Amaravathi. We also have a Sports Authority of India centre in Aurangabad,” Korhale Bharat, the Maharashtra coach, said.

Anil Kamineni said efforts are on to appoint a compound coach from the U.S., keeping in mind the forthcoming Asian Games in Incheon. “A couple of names have been shortlisted and a coach will be appointed by May. He will help our archers prepare for the selection trials for the Asian Games in July. We are also planning to send the compound team to the U.S. before the Games.”

The AAI General Secretary said that India was doing well in the compound segment. He appreciated the role of Volga Archery Academy for producing many talented compound archers in all age categories.

“As many countries are keen on compound’s induction into the Olympics, the World Archery Association (FITA) has intensified its talks with the International Olympic Council (IOC) for its inclusion. Compound may well find its way into the 2020 Olympics,” Anil said.

He is happy with the manner in which archery is growing in the country. He appreciated the role of Army Sports Institute in Pune, Tata Academy in Jamshedpur and other private academies for promoting archery in a big manner.

“Archery was predominantly popular in the tribal and the North East part of the country. But thanks to the awareness and the consistent performance of Indian archers both in the Asian and World circuits, the sport has caught the imagination of the entire country, including the urban pockets.”

Anil said the association had taken a decision to send the second rung archers to the World Cup tourneys as the fringe players needed the all-important exposure. “World Cup Stage 1 to 4 events will be held soon and we will be sending the second rung archers along with the top eight archers.”