Arguably the best Indian contemporary recurve male archer, Jayanta Talukdar, seems to have regained the touch and confidence in time for the World Cup archery final slated at Copenhagen on September 26.
The 23-year-old Indian is the leading male archer in the World Cup ranking with 45 points gleaned from four World Cup legs out of which the best three championship points are counted.
“I was bothered by two factors of late,” Talukdar said before his departure on Tuesday. “I was not feeling the bow while shooting and secondly I seemed to have lost a bit of focus during the Shanghai World Cup and at the Ulsan World championship. I introspected and with the help of my coach sorted out the problems to a large extent,” he revealed. “I have not only regained my rhythm but also my confidence level is much higher now,” he added.
Talukdar had won the second leg at Porec to gain 25 points and finished the bronze medal winner at the third leg at Antalya which fetched him another 18 points. He picked up two points each from the first leg at Santo Domingo and the fourth leg at Shanghai.
“The fourth Asian Grand Prix came as a boon as it helped me to work on my mistakes. I shot well the past two days and I will get two more days at Copenhagen before the final. I hope to be ready for the battle,” he said.
Talukdar will have coach Dharmendra Tiwary by his side, this time. “He (Tiwary) knows my game and his advice during shooting will be of great help,” he said.
“Talukdar is in good shape,'' Tiwary said adding, “We pray for good weather and a bit of luck as well.”
The Indian ace will figure in the Champion of Champions leg for the second time, having experienced it in 2006 where he finished last among the four competitors. “I had no experience when I went to Mexico in 2006. The rules for the final were also different and I struggled to hit the rhythm,” he recalled.
“Unlike other competitions, an archer is given only 20 seconds (as against 30 seconds) to shoot one arrow in the finals. I have been practicing on this since my arrival from Ulsan and I put this to good use at the Kolkata meet. I think I am fairly successful in tuning my game,” he sdded.
Talukdar will come up against three other competitors, Simon Terry of Great Britain (43 points, No. 2 seed), Romain Girouille of France (36 points, No. 3 seed) and Marco Galiazzo of Italy (36 points, No. 4 seed). As per the rule, Talukdar will play Galiazzo and Terry will take on Girouille. The winners will play for two position and the losers will contest for the last two places.
Talukdar holds 3-0 record against 2004 Athens Olympic champion Galiazzo. He beat him twice in 2006 and again this year while winning the gold medal at the Porec leg. “In archery records have no bearing but the form on the day counts. In a 12-arrow contest each shot is valuable. There is no place for error,” he pointed out.
Even Galiazzo's form is not good since the beginning of the season. He was lucky to get in to the finals because Oh Jin Hyek of Korea needed a win at the Shanghai leg final to pick up the needed 25 points. His loss turned out to be the Italian's gain. Galiazzo is the only archer in the final lineup not to have won a leg of the World Cup.
If he wins the champion of champions title, Talukdar will be the second Indian to do so, the first being Dola Banerjee who achieved the feat at Dubai in 2007.
The final is being held in Northern Europe for the first time. The historic canal at Nyhavn will be the backdrop. In all, 16 competitors (recurve men and women and compound men and women) from 12 different countries will launch the daylong event. And, it will also be the perfect opening shot for the IOC session and Olympic Congress.