GANGTOK: Sikkim’s lone Olympian in 2020 Tokyo Olympics Subedar Tarundeep Rai was conferred with the Padma Shri by President Ramnath Kovind in New Delhi on Monday.
The ace archer had made his debut in international archery at the age of 19 when he played at the Asian Archery Championship 2003 held at Yangon, Myanmar.
President Kovind presented Padma awards at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The 2021 list comprises seven Padma Vibhushan, 10 Padma Bhushan, and 102 Padma Shri awards, of which 29 awardees are women, 16 posthumous awardees, and 1 transgender awardee.
The Padma Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. And the Padma Bhushan awards are given for distinguished service of a high order.
Tarundeep Rai, along with fellow archers Atanu Das and Praveen Jadhav, had grabbed the quota for the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year, with Rai reducing 14 kg for what he claimed to be his last Olympics.
“I still want to be Arjun” were the resounding words of archer Tarundeep Rai upon his return to Sikkim after the Olympics.
The Padma Shri recipient, who took part in his third unsuccessful Olympics attempt, was considered to be retiring owing to his age. The 38-year-old has so far participated in Athens 2004, London 2012 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Tarundeep Rai had then said, “I still want to be an Arjun; you can say, yes, I am still eyeing the 2024 Olympics. I am sure in the next game in Paris (2024), we will definitely win medals. But hunting for medal will create unnecessary pressure for archers. If I am still a part of the team then, we will deliver our best, which I hope will convert into a medal. I have so many plans for the state and personally for myself as well.”
Rai had won India its maiden individual silver medal in archery at the 16th Asian Games on November 24, 2010, in Guangzhou, China. He was a member of the Indian archery team that won the bronze medal at the 15th Asian Games in Doha in 2006.
At the 2004 Summer Olympics, Rai was placed 32nd in the men’s individual ranking round with a 72-arrow score of 647. Rai was also a member of the 11th-place Indian men’s archery team at the 2004 Summer Olympics.
A career-threatening injury to his right shoulder forced him to lie low for the best part of two years from 2007-2008.
Rai did not make the men’s team at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. He only competed in the individual event. But he got into rhythm and clinched a silver medal. He was also a member of the Indian men’s recurve team at the 2012 London Olympics. He gave the country the third place in the London Olympics qualification round at Ogden, US in 2012.
On National Sports Day this year, Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay had announced an archery academy in the name of Padma Shri Tarundeep Rai for his heroics in the Olympics on three occasion and to commemorate Olympian Tarundeep Rai’s 25 years of sporting legacy.
Expressing gratitude to the state government, Rai had then stated, “To have an academy in my name is a personal happiness but the main objective is for the future generations of sportspersons in Sikkim. I have been an archer for 25 years now, it’s in my blood now; even with eyes shut, the body reacts in action in these 25 years.”
CM Golay had said, “The name of the academy would be ‘Tarundeep Rai Archery Academy Sikkim’, and the same would be reflected in the budget of the next financial year. Sports Department will immediately start the preliminary work in consultation with Tarundeep Rai himself. The institute will give birth to many more Olympians in the future.”
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