In the ranking round, the women finish ninth and the men 12th

The archery medals looked a distant dream, even before the opening ceremony of the Olympics, as world No. 1 Deepika Kumari shot 662 and finished eighth while the Indian women were placed ninth among 12 teams in the ranking round at the Nursery ground of Lord’s here on Friday.

The women’s team’s performance was actually better than that of the men’s side, which finished 12th and last earlier in the day.

It may have been a mere ranking round, but the poor fare landed the team in trouble. For a team that had beaten Korea in the last world championship before settling for the silver, the Indian team logged 1938 points to Korea’s 1993, which placed the Olympic champion right on top of the table.

Meets Denmark

With the top four teams — US, Chinese Taipei, Mexico and Korea — getting a bye in the first round, India was drawn to meet the eighth-placed Denmark in the pre-quarterfinals.

If the Indian women beat Denmark, they will face a tough quarterfinal against champion Korea. That indeed was the danger after the women slipped in the ranking round.

Bombayla Devi (651) and Chekrovolu Swuro (625) were placed 22nd and 50th in a field of 62 in the individual rankings.

In the first round of the individual event, the 18-year-old Deepika Kumari will meet Amy Oliver of Britain, and possibly Fang Yuting of China in the second round. She figures in the same quarter as the top-seeded Ki Bo Bae of Korea.

Bombayla, who will open against Evangelia Pssarra of Greece, is in the same half as the third-ranked Tan Ya-ting of Chinese Taipei. Swuro will meet Jennifer Nichols of the US and if she has a good run, she may run into the second-seeded Lee Sung Jin of Korea in the pre-quarterfinals.

In the morning, under gloomy conditions and a bit of drizzle, the Indian men, ranked fifth in the world, stumbled badly to finish last in the rankings. They will play Japan in the pre-quarterfinals. The top four teams — Korea, France, China and the US — have been given a bye in the first round.

World record

On a day when Im Dong Hyun shot a world record 699 out of 720 and guided his team to another world record of 2087 — Kim Bubmin shot 698 — the Indian camp struggled to pin down the reason for the below-par performance.

The men archers had contracted a viral infection a few days ago and the team leader Pareshnath Mukherjee said that was not the reason behind the poor show.

“We shot about 45 points below our normal score,’’ said Mukherjee after the men finished with a total of 1969. This was, perhaps, a true reflection of the team’s strength as India was not among the nine teams which made the cut from the world championship last year.

Tarundeep Rai (664), Rahul Banerjee (655) and Jayanta Talukdar (650) finished 31st, 46th and 53rd respectively in the ranking round restricted to 64 archers.

Only Tarundeep, a silver medallist in the last Asian Games, shot eight points better in the second half, while the scores of the other two dipped, albeit marginally.

Meanwhile, Jayanta Talukdar said the archers had not recovered fully from the viral infection, and hoped for a better fare in the individual event after the team competition.

Tough assignments

That would be tough too, as Tarundeep Rai will run into the Korean second seed Kim Bubmin in the second round, and Rahul Banerjee may lock horns with the third-ranked Oh Jin Hyek of Korea in the pre-quarterfinals.

Talukdar will open against Jacob Wukie of the US and would fancy his chances of a third round clash against Takaharu Furukawa of Japan.

The Indian archers now need a miraculous recovery, starting with the men’s team competition on Saturday, to make it to the podium.

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