Archers to fire arrow before the Opening Ceremony

It will once again be archery which will fire the competitive arrows, albeit in the ranking round, long before the Opening Ceremony on Friday.

Laxmirani Majhi and Deepika Kumari train ahead of the Friday's recurve event.   -  Reuters

It was an archer who fired a burning arrow to light the cauldron at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. It will once again be archery which will fire the competitive arrows, albeit in the ranking round, long before the Opening Ceremony on Friday.

Of course, football invariably starts a few days before everyone gets into the Olympic mood, and Neymar and company have already started looking for that elusive Olympic gold for host Brazil this time.

Bombayla Devi, in her third Olympics, Deepika Kumari (second), Laxmirani Majhi and Atanu Das (first) will attempt to set the tempo for the Indian contingent at the Sambadromo arena. After the setback at the London Games in 2012, they will be keen to come back with pleasant memories.

READ: >Archers to skip opening ceremony of Rio Games

Along with Chinese Taipei, Japan, China and Russia, the Indian women’s squad, led by Deepika, is tipped to be one of the contenders to stop South Korea from winning its eighth successive gold since the introduction of the sport in the Olympics. However, the format to have set scores — used in the individual competition — in the team event, too, has evoked mixed response.

“It’s a joke. I think it takes away the charm of our sport. I don’t know any other sport where you can make a huge detrimental mistake and still win,” three-time Olympian Brady Ellison of the U.S. was quoted as saying.

“We hope that the team event will become more exciting when compared to London, and easier to follow, because the rules will be the same in individual and team competitions,” World Archery, the international federation governing the sport, said in a statement.

“Overall, we have seen a small shift in focus, towards shooting that single arrow that matters where it needs to be, every single time. There is also an element of competitive risk added. An archer might try harder or hold to aim longer, depending on the score of the match,” is WA's argument.

India will look to capitalise on the new format, even though it has earned the right to fight only in the women’s team event.