Lack of experience cost women's archery team Olympic berth: Dola
(Sourced from PTI)
Former world champion Dola Banerjee feels that lack of experience could be the prime reason why the Indian women's recurve archery team missed out on an Olympic berth for the first time. Notably, the trio of Deepika Kumari, Ankita Bhakat and Komalika Bari lost to lowly Colombia in their opening round of the Final Olympic Qualifier in Paris on Sunday.
Dola feels that the troika should have featured another seasoned name alongside the accomplished Deepika. The Indian team will not have representation at the Games for the first time since the women's team made its Olympic debut in Athens 2004. "It's hard to believe, the women's team were favorites to win an Olympic medal and they could not even qualify," two-time Olympian Dola said.
Having qualified as second seed with Deepika shooting a top individual score of 674 in the morning session, all hell broke loose in the elimination round as she shot a poor five to start off the second set. Her inexperienced partners failed to make amends as India lost in straight sets with scores of 54, 49, 52.
"It's not that Colombia won by shooting well but our scores are way below their average shooting scores of 57-58 in practice. You just can't win with these scores at that level," Dola said. After India had failed to qualify from the 2019 World Championships, they brought in left-handed Ankita Bhakat in place of senior-most Laishram Bombayala Devi, a three-time Olympian.
"I can't say we would have qualified if we had Bom (Bombayala) but the experience definitely counts. When you have two experienced archers one can make up for another's bad shot. But if a senior falters, juniors get more nervous. Bhakat and Bari had little experience at this level," Banerjee remarked. India will now have four archers in Tokyo, three men, and one woman.
The men's team will have Tarundeep Rai, Atanu Das, and Pravin Jadhav, while Deepika will be the sole entry in the women's section. This will be Deepika's third successive Olympics. "I'm sure she (Deepika) will be feeling very bad but it's time to look forward, no point thinking about the past," Dola said.
She has a bright chance in both individual and mixed pair events, and who knows -- we will win our first Olympic medal in Tokyo...We have to start afresh and think about what's next," Dola said. Former secretary-general of Archery Association of India Paresh Nath Mukherjee said there's still hope. "We can't be pessimistic...We still have lots of hope from our archers," Paresh said.