For all the athletes coming to the Capital for the Commonwealth Games, the time to perform is fast approaching. In spite of a number of issues distracting them from the job on hand, those aspiring for the medals have their eyes fixed firmly on the target.
An upbeat Indian archery contingent is among the biggest medal hopes for the country, after shooting and boxing. And they are keen to hit the bulls' eye.
Chief coach Limba Ram, a man who gave Indian archery an identity more than a decade ago with a world record when the targets were placed at 30 metres, is today the voice of the country's archers.
“Out of the eight gold medals at stake, I am confident of our archers making a sweep of all four gold medals in the recurve section. Here, I am not counting the silver and bronze medals, in my projection.”
“After all, our men's team is among the leading nations in recurve and this time, at home, we should be able to make a clean sweep of the gold medals. Having said that, I must say, we expect a tough challenge from Malaysia for the recurve titles.”
“In the compound section, our medal chances are 50-50. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and Malaysia pose formidable challenge. Our team of National champion P. Srithar, C. N. Jignesh and Ritul Chatterjee in the men's section apart from Jhanu Hansda, Gagandeep Kaur and Bhagyawati Chanu in the ladies section, are all very talented, so don't discount their medal chances, at home.”
“Realistically, in compound, I expect at least two gold medals, whether from the team or individual competitions. I don't believe in looking just for medals. Unless our archers think only of the gold, and nothing less, we can be among the medals. The team is really motivated to do well before the home crowd.”
Focus on recurve
Mention the recurve section and Limba's eyes light up. “Our recurve team has done very well so far. The trio of Jayant Talukdar, Tarundeep Rai and Rahul Banerjee has shot world class scores. These boys are in fine form as we saw in the World Cup in Shanghai (earlier this month) where India won the team gold and Talukdar claimed the individual bronze. If we can win medals in China, imagine what we should be able to do at home.”
Among the ladies, the 2007 world champion Dola Banerjee is the best bet for the individual recurve gold. Bombayala Devi and Dipika Kumari, too, will be serious medal contenders. As a team, India is an obvious title-favourite.
“I have high hopes from this team. But much depends on how all our archers peak during the competition. The conditions at the venue here are slightly different than the one we had during training at Kolkata. Wind can be a factor here but our archers are very keen to train hard and deal with it when it matters.” Before signing off, Limba makes a passionate plea and seeks the blessings and wishes of sports lovers of the country. “Please come out in big numbers and support us. We have trained very hard for these Games. Back us and we'll give it our best shot.”