The future looks very promising


The Indian team came up with a creditable performance in the World championship in New York.-Pic. S. SUBRAMANIUM

ARCHERY in India, compared to the Far East, Europe and the American nations, is much behind in terms of facility and wherewithal. Sheer perseverance, in the face of many odds, has been India's strong point. Looking at the recently concluded 42nd World outdoor target archery championship, the Indian team's placing — the men came fourth and the women sixth — has been a historic achievement. On the individual front, Satyadev Prasad stood 12th and Dola Banerjee finished at 14th in a field of 64.

A top European archer participates in no less than 25 to 30 internationals a year. And for an Indian five meets in a year is a luxury. Despite the absence of quality international exposure and lack of funds to upgrade the equipment, the Indian archers and the Archery Association of India (AAI) have been manfully striving hard to keep up the excellent work within their means. With this background, India's overall showing, including booking six Olympic berths in next year's Athens Games, should be an excellent eye opener for the corporate world to open its doors to this sport.

Apart from financial contributions from a few individuals in the past and the support of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in running National camps and the Central Government in sending teams abroad, the role of Tatas in the development of archery in India cannot be ignored. Besides setting up an academy at Jamshedpur, the steel giant has been supporting a number of individual archers. Dola is an excellent example of this policy. On the lines of Tata academy, the Gurukul academy in Meerut has brought about a wonderful transformation in men's archery. Satyadev Prasad, now a qualified SAI coach, Acharya Ved Kumar, now employed with ordnance factories, are the two from the earliest batch of the Gurukul. The Indian Army, which had a training centre at Shillong, has shifted its archery activity to Pune as part of its ambitious programme of producing Olympic champions. The entry of Army archers has given the domestic competition a keen edge. The fall-out of this programme is the 19-year-old exciting talent in Tarundeep Rai, who stood 33rd in his maiden appearance.

The other Indians, Ved Kumar figured at 56th and Limba Ram failed to qualify for the individual event. Among women, Chekrovolu Swuro ended 41st, Reena Kumari was two slots behind her and Bheigyabati Chanu finished at 61.

The good work done by Shyamlal Meena, the redoubtable Limba Ram, the man who literally put Indian archery on the World map, and Krishna Ghatak, the first woman to make a mark at the international level, seems to be bearing fruits. The future looks very promising for Indian archery.