Tokyo: Indian archers need to quickly shrugg off the disappointment of elimination from the team events as they brace for tougher challenges ahead in the individual competitions of the Tokyo Olympics, here on Wednesday.
Team events being 16-team draws provided the best opportunity to win a medal but exited early from the men’s team and mixed pair sections.
A poor performance in the ranking rounds by Pravin Jadhav, Atanu Das and Tarundeep Rai pitted them against heavyweights Korea, who knocked out both the men’s and mixed pair teams in the quarterfinals.
It’s not that they shot poorly in the elimination round — the men’s team’s average arrow in the matchplay was 9.12 just behind Korea, Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands — but it’s their poor ranking round that changed the dynamics.
In the individual section, it would almost take double the effort in the field of 64 — they need at least five wins (compared to three in team events) for a podium finish.
No Indian has so far managed to cross the pre-quarterfinal hurdle but going by their form, it won’t be a surprise if they go deep.
While world number one Deepika Kumari, who is making her third successive Olympic appearance, will be a favourite from the Indian team, rookie Pravin Jadhav would fancy his chances on the back of some fine shooting.
The key for the Olympic debutant will be to shoot consistently when he faces world number two Galsan Bazarzhapov of Russia.
There has already been an upset in the men’s section on Tuesday when 17-year-old Korean sensation Kim Je Deok, the men’s top-seed, was knocked out by Florian Unruh of Germany in the second round.
Deepika will begin her campaign against Karma, Bhutan’s flagbearer, ranked a lowly 193.
Deepika was lacklustre and failed to get a single 10 in their mixed pair loss to Korea in the quarterfinal on Saturday.
Coming after a three-day break, the ace Indian would look to do better for an easy passage into the quarterfinals.
Unless there is a men’s like upset, Deepika might face An San, the Korean top-seed who broke a 25-year-old record in the ranking round.
The duo had clashed in the final of the ‘Tokyo2020 Test Event’ at the same venue of Yumenoshima Park two years ago with An San winning in straight sets.
The biggest letdown for the Indians has been Atanu Das who lost his place to Jadhav in the mixed pair section after finishing a lowly 35th in the ranking round.
Das, who won a gold medal at the Guatemala City World Cup in April, would be desperate to turn it around. Das will take on Deng Yu-Cheng of Chinese Taipei in his opening round.
It would be an emotional affair for Army veteran Tarundeep Rai who is set for his last Olympic appearance, 17 years after he made his Games debut at Athens. He will face Oleksii Hunbin of Ukraine and would look to end on a high.
“I want to give my best at the final goal of my career which is winning an Olympic medal for the country,” Rai said.
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