The arrows flew to their liking

S. SABANAYAKAN

THE triumph of Shivnath Nagesia of Uttar Pradesh in the Olympic round individual championship of the 22nd senior National archery championship highlighted the inconsistency of the Indian male archers. In fact, the first three positions were taken by unheralded players. On the women's side, Dola Banerjee claimed the title for the third year in a row.

Dola Banerjee (left) and Shivnath Nagesia, the individual champions in the Olympic round.-S. PATRONOBISH

The meet also saw four new National marks being established at the Seven Tanks Estate in Cossipore on the first day. Interestingly, all the records were set in the women's section of the FITA round with Jharkhand's international Dola Banerjee and Chekrovolu Swuro sharing them.

Dola Banerjee, on contract with the Jamshedpur-based Tata Archery Academy, shot 328 points in the 60m event to erase one of the long standing records held by Purnima Mahato of erstwhile Bihar. Purnima, now one of the coaches at the TAA, had held the record of 324 set in the 1995 Nationals at Patiala. Dola's second record was in the 30m competition. She scored 346 which bested her previous mark by one point set at the Imphal National Games in 1999.

Chekrovolu, also on contract with the TAA, shot 317 points over the 50m distance. This bettered Dola's 1997 record of 316 established at Delhi. Chekrovolu totalled 1288 in the four distance - 70, 60, 50 and 30m - events to establish a new record surpassing Dola Banerjee's 1268 set at the last Nationals at Amravati in Maharashtra.

If it was a clean sweep by the Jharkhand trio of Dola, Chekrovolu and Bansaralin Dhar in the distaff side, the Jharkhand men failed miserably both in the FITA and Olympic rounds.

In winning his maiden title, Nagesia found the 23-year-old rifleman W. Ranjan Singh, a junior clerk posted at Shillong, a bundle of nerves in the summit clash. At the end of the first round of three arrows Nagesia took four points lead (28-24). Ranjan Singh reduced the lead to three at the end of the second round (51-48) but Nagesia took a commanding seven-point lead in the third (77-70) and won the clash at 101-95. The final was the first for both Imphal-born Manipuri Ranjan Singh and Jharkhand-born Nagesia. Defending champion Somai Murmu of Jharkhand lost to Ranjan Singh in the quarterfinals. Prabhat Kumar of U.P. took the bronze beating Olympian Lalrem Sanga of Jharkhand.

Dola's first title came at the Shillong Nationals in 1999. She retained it last year at Amravati and now at Cossipore. Dola defeated her Jharkhand teammate and chief rival Chekrovolu Swuro in the final by 108 points to 102. Both tied at 25 points at the end of the one end of three arrows. Dola pulled away to establish two points lead in the second (53-51) and raised it to six (81-75) and maintained it till the fourth and final round to win. Bansaralin Dhar, a lady from Shillong, Meghalaya, also under contract with the TAA, took the bronze medal beating a fast improving Sujata Das of Bengal 94-82.

In the team final, the U.P. threesome of Kailash, Prabhat Kumar and Satyadev Prasad, stayed calm and composed when it mattered against the Services trio of Muni Ram Tirkey, Santosh Pradhan and Gurucharan Besra. At the end of the first round of nine arrows, U.P. led 80-75 and in the next nine arrows it increased it by six (157-151) and in the last set of nine arrows by seven (233-226). Tirkey, hailing from Jalpaiguri in Bengal, shot consistently while Pradhan and Besra, a former TAA trainee, failed to live up to expectations. U.P., which last won the title in 1997, regained it after a gap of three years. Services' first final failed to provide the required motivation.

Jharkhand retained the women's team title beating Manipur 219-201 in a one-sided contest. Earlier, Bengal took the bronze medal defeating Uttar Pradesh.

As many as 12 archers in the men's section and six in the women's side breached the 1200 mark, a sign received well during the championship. Limba Ram, in the autumn of his career, scored 304 points to take the 90m gold medal. The U.P. archers swept all the three positions in the 70m event with Shivnath Nagesia taking the gold with 325. Kailash and Satyadev Prasad tied at 322 but Kailash had 11 ten-point shots as against Prasad's eight to take the silver medal.

There was a keen competition in the 50m event where just one point separated the first three position holders. Kailash shot 324, former National champion Muni Ram Tirkey of Services 323 and Mangal Singh Champia of U.P. took the bronze with 322.

Acharya Ved Kumar of Ordnance Factories Sports Control Board, the host, took the gold medal in the 30m event. He scored 350 points while Gurpal Singh of Punjab was second with 347. Rajesh Hansdak of Orissa and Satyadev Prasad of U.P. tied for the third spot with 346 points each. Hansdak and Prasad had 23 ten pointers each but Hansdak's 10 bullseyes clinched the issue. Prasad had just seven.

Visalie Leno of Uttaranchal and B. Geetanjali Devi emerged the overall individual champions in the eighth Indian round competition. Leno totalled 614 points to win the individual honours. After failing to figure in the medal bracket of the 50m event with a score of 284, Leno accumulated 330 points to tie with Bengal's Dipan Pradhan in the 30m event. Leno was declared the gold medal winner by virtue of his 17 ten-pointer as against Pradhan's 15.

Ravinder Sharma of Delhi totalled 294 points to win the 50m gold medal. He was followed by Turi Sundi of Jharkhand with 293 and Y. Sanahal Mangang of Manipur with 291. In the 30m event, Leno was followed by Dipan Pradhan (silver) and Naresh Nugri of Jharkhand (bronze). Nugri had a score of 326 points.

B. Geetanjali Devi won the overall individual honours in the women's section. She had 587 points to take the overall crown from her teammate L. Suni Devi (566). Violet Murmu of Jharkhand was third with 557. Geetanjali won the 50m event by scoring 281 points to push statemates B. Sophia Devi (280) and Suni Devi (278) to silver and bronze positions. Geetanjali took the 30m gold with a total of 306 points while Bengal's Kalyani Das took the silver medal with 297. Violet Murmu of Jharkhand won the bronze medal with 294 points.

Uttaranchal won the men's team gold with a total of 1791 points while Manipur took the women's team honours with a total of 1675. Visalie Leno (614), Kham Boy (604) and Bhupal Singh (573) formed the Uttaranchal team while Geetanjali (587), Suni Devi (566) and Bimbayia Devi (522) made the Manipur women's side. Jharkhand with 1780 took the men's team silver while Services took the bronze medal with 1696. In the women's section, Assam took the second position with a total of 1609 and Jharkhand the third place with a total of 1588 points.

The results:

Olympic round final: Men: Shivnath Nagesia (U.P) bt W. Ranjan Singh (Ser) 101-95. For 3rd place: Prabhat Kumar (U.P) bt Lalrem Sanga (Jhar) 105-94. Semifinals: Ranjan Singh bt Prabhat Kumar 109-107; Nagesia bt Sanga 99(10,9) - 99(10,8). Quarterfinals: Ranjan Singh bt Somai Murmu (Jhar) 103-99; Prabhat Kumar bt Santosh Pradhan (Ser) 103-96; Sanga bt Mangal Singh Champia (U.P) 97(8) - 97(7); Nagesia bt Rajesh Hansdak (Ori) 104-103. Team final: Uttar Pradesh (Satyadev Prasad, Kailash Singh, Prabhat Kumar) 233 bt Services (Muni Ram Tirkey, Santosh Pradhan, Gurucharan Besra) 226. For 3rd place: Rajasthan (Limba Ram, Lal Singh Ninama, Jayantilal Ninama) bt Orissa 217-212. Semifinals: Services bt Rajasthan 234-216; U.P. bt Orissa 238-226.

Women: Dola Banerjee (Jhar) bt Chekrovolu Swuro (Jhar) 108-102. For 3rd place: Bansaralin Dhar (Jhar) bt Sujata Das (Ben) 94-82. Semifinals: Chekrovolu bt Sujata 95-87; Dola bt Bansaralin 110-103. Quarterfinals: Chekrovolu bt B. Angela Devi (Mani) 111-103; Sujata bt Keziegkunuo Thano (Jhar) 95-86; Bansaralin bt Jhanu Hansda 94-84; Dola bt Sunaina Sharma (Del) 96-82. Team final: Jharkhand (Dola, Chekrovolu, Bansaralin) bt Manipur (B. Angela Devi, B. Girija Devi, Kh. Bhagyabati Chanu) 219-201. For 3rd place: Bengal (Sujata Das, Sangita Samanta, Rina Dutta Roy) bt U.P. 191-170. Semifinals: Jharkhand bt U.P. 250-157; Manipur bt Bengal 212-207.

FITA round - Men: 90m: 1. Limba Ram (Raj) 304 points, 2. W. Ranjan Singh (Ser) 294, 3. Kailash (U.P.) 293. 70m: 1. Shivnath Nagesia (U.P) 325, 2. Kailash (U.P.) 322 (11 X), 3. Satyadev Prasad (U.P.) 322 (8 X). 50m: 1. Kailash (U.P.) 324, 2. M.R. Tirkey (Ser) 323, 3. Mangal Singh Champia (U.P.) 322. 30m: 1. Acharya Ved Kumar (OFSCB) 350, 2. Gurpal Singh (Pun) 347, 3. Rajesh Hansdak (Ori) 346.

Women: 70m: 1. Dola Banerjee (Jhar) 310 points, 2. Chekrovolu Swuro (Jhar) 309, 3. Bansaralin Dhar (Jhar) 301. 60m: 1. Dola Banerjee 328 (NR, previous 324 by Purnima Mahato of Bihar in 1995), 2. Chekrovolu 324, 3. Bansaralin 321. 50m: 1. Chekrovolu 317 (NR, previous 316 by Dola in 1997), 2. Bansaralin 302, 3. Sujata Das (Ben) 301. 30m: 1. Dola 346 (NR, previous 345 by Dola, National Games in 1999), 2. Bansaralin 340, 3. Chekrovolu 338.

Indian round: Men:

50m: 1. Ravinder Sharma (Del) 294 points, 2. Turi Sundi (Jhar) 293, 3. Y. Sanahal Mangang (Man) 291. 30m: 1. Visalie Leno (Utt) 330 (17 X), 2. Dipan Pradhan (Ben) 330 (15 X), 3. Naresh Nugri (Jhar) 326. Overall champion: 1. Leno 614, 2. Sundi 607, 3. Kham Boy (Utt) 604. Team championship: 1. Uttaranchal (Leno, Kham Boy and Bhupal Singh) 1791, 2. Jharkhand 1780, 3. Services 1696.

Women: 50m: 1. B. Geetanjali Devi (Man) 281 points, 2. B. Sophia Devi (Man) 280, 3. L. Suni Devi (Man) 278. 30m: 1. Geetanjali 306, 2. Kalyani Das (Ben) 297, 3. Violet Murmu (Jhar) 294. Overall champion: 1. Geetanjali 587, 2. Suni 566, 3. Violet 557. Team championship: 1. Manipur (B. Geetanjali Devi, L. Suni Devi, L. Bimbayia Devi) 1675, 2. Assam 1609, 3. Jharkhand 1588.

The arrows flew to their liking

SHIVNATH NAGESIA has been rubbing shoulders with the best of the talent in the country since 1997. An also ran all these years, Nagesia, who hails from Jharkhand and trains at the Sports Authority of India, New Delhi, under coach Soumen Das, clearly waited for a break. And it came in the 22nd Nationals at Cossipore.

"My gold medal winning performance in the 70m event of the FITA round gave me the required confidence to take on the best in India," the shy 20-year-old tribal admitted. With the Olympic round fought over 70m distance, Nagesia was ready to take on all. Till the quarterfinals of the Olympic round, Nagesia had a smooth sailing. His first and last tough encounter came in the semifinals where he faced Olympian Lalrem Sanga of Jharkhand. Both tied 99-all at the end of 12 arrows. In the tie-break shoot out, the first arrow proved tied as both shot a ten each. Nagesia shot a nine in the second as against Sanga's eight to clinch the title round. "I knew then that the title was within my grasp," he said.

W. Ranjan Singh proved no match for Nagesia. "Shivnath has a solid temperament and strong basics," opined his coach Das. "He came under me in 1998 and since then has been improving steadily. What he needs now is good equipment and support from the Archery Association of India for him to excel for the country," said the coach.

For Dola Banerjee, at 21, the arrows are flying to her liking. A lady from Baranagar she was forced to take up the contract with the Tata Archery Academy at Jamshedpur as she had no job. She does not train at Jamshedpur instead preferring her personal coach and the ground in front of her home to train.

Dola was confidence personified in the entire tournament. Except for her poor showing in the 50m event of the FITA round where she finished off the medal bracket, she won the 70 and 30m events. Her immediate aim is to shoot consistently in the region of 1300 plus which will put her in line with the world's best. For the first time in 2001, Dola figured in the pre-quarterfinals of the world and Asian meet.

What has been irking the top lady archer of the country was her apparent inability to win the National Games title. Both at Imphal and Patiala, it was Chekrovolu Swuro who stole the title. Dola, who has many more years ahead of her, promised to set the record straight in the next Games.

Unaffected by all publicity, this unassuming lady felt lack of job opportunity in India did not encourage women to take up archery as a full time sport. "One needs a lot of money to support the sport which is costly by any standard. But for the TAA contract, I would not have sustained my interest in the sport," she admitted. "Corporate giants will have to come forward to support the sport which has great potential to win India an Olympic medal in future."