The Indian recurve men’s team of Atanu Das, Tarundeep Rai, and Pravin Ramesh Jadhav qualified three places for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by making the quarterfinals at the 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships in ’s-Hertogenbosch.
Seeded 11th after the ranking round, India upset sixth seeds Canada, who had qualified high after a career-best performance from Eric Peters. India opened the match well, taking the first set 56-55 and the second 57-56, and took quick control.
“We started good, we started really nice,” said Das. “I think this is the best thing we have ever done. This is a real turning point for Indian archery. We worked so hard to get to this point because the last Olympics we didn’t qualify.”
It was an impressive, driven performance for the men’s team that has shown undoubted quality, but not always performed at the top level.
In the third set, Canada took two points back with a strong 58, but India had the momentum and a split of 57-57 in the last set was enough to win the match.
“Finally, we’ve secured a berth from a world championships,” said Rai. “We tried three times. All the teams are feeling the same thing. So we kept calm more than anyone else. We’ve been working on that alone.”
“This is our time. We’ve worked hard for a long time. This is the moment to keep going. For 2020, we are growing, and we are coming.”
It was a tough defeat for a strong Canadian team.
“I think it was a little bit of a surprise to my teammates on how intense it can get when you’re shooting for Olympic spots,” said Crispin Duenas. “I knew exactly what to expect, but I don’t think that they anticipated that. Well, big respect to them because they held their own.”
Four years ago in Copenhagen, the Indian women’s team qualified spots while the men’s team did not. This time in ’s-Hertogenbosch, it was the other way around.
The Indian women’s team of Deepika Kumari, Bombayla Devi Laishram and Komalika Bari had a disappointing performance on the field, which saw Bari shoot a miss in the first end after the string caught her armguard.
She apparently had similar problems in the second end, with arrows landing in the five and three – to leave India trailing, 4-0. India pulled it back together in the last two ends, but the damage had been done, and Belarus took the Olympic spots.
“In practice, we had no problems, we were shooting 10s. But when the competition started, we had a problem,” said Laishram.
“Matches are often easy to win. But we had some bad luck. We still have a chance to qualify. And we will try our best next time.”
The 2019 Hyundai World Archery Championships take place on 10-16 June in ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.