The Indian five-member archery contingent is raring to go. With the Olympics knocking on the door, the final four (three men’s and one women’s) quota places for the Olympics were finalised following the national trails in March 2021. The team consists of Atanu Das, Pravin Jadhav, Tarundeep Rai and Deepika Kumari.
Having never won an archery medal previously in the Olympics, the current contingent will be looking to break that record and put up a strong show in Tokyo. With an experienced and talented team, there is no reason why one shouldn’t be excited for their chances this year.
Let’s take a look at the Indian contingent who will be looking to hit the bulseye at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Deepika Kumari (Women’s Individual and Mixed Team)
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics would mark Kumari’s third appearance at the Olympics after previous appearances in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Although her first Olympic bout saw her get knocked out in the opening round, Kumari had a more successful outing in 2016, when the women’s recursive team made it to the Round of 16 having overcome the likes of Colombia. The ace archer cemented her place for the third consecutive final during the 2019 Continental Qualification Tournament held in Bangkok.
Kumari heads into her third Olympics on the back of rich form, having won three gold medals at the 2021 Archery World Cup. The current World No. 1 will head the Indian archery contingent along with husband Atanu Das as she looks to replicate her recent form in the World Cup in Tokyo. Kumari will pair up with Atanu Das in the Mixed Team event and go solo for the women’s individual event in search of the country’s first ever medal at the sport in the Olympic Games.
Atanu Das (Men’s Individual, Men’s Team and Mixed Team)
When Atanu Das won silver at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2019, he was a part of a team that made it to the World finals for the first time in fourteen years.
The archer from Baranagar, West Bengal was first introduced to the sport at the age of 14. Two years later, he had made his international debut for India and qualified for the Youth Olympic Games, Singapore 2010. Since then, there has been no looking back for Das, who after winning a silver medal at the World Youth Championships has gone on to win his first World Cup medal in 2013, winning bronze at the mixed event. Das made his Olympic debut in 2016’s Rio Olympics and had a stellar debut before getting knocked out by the finest of margins in the Round of 16.
Heading into his second Olympics, Das comes on the back of a double gold medal haul at the 2021 World Cup, hoping to carry on his good form in the men’s individual, men’s team and mixed team events.
Tarundeep Rai (Men’s Individual and Men’s Team)
A veteran of 18 years, Tarundeep Rai made his international debut way back in 2003 at the age of 19. Having grabbed headlines at the Asian championship in Myanmar, Rai was selected to be a part of the Indian team at the World championship in New York the same year.
Rai took his first gold medal at the 2004 Asian Grand Prix and made his debut at the Athens Olympics the same year. Although the then 20-year-old got eliminated in the first round, Rai put up a valiant fight, losing in a close encounter with Greece’s Alex Karageorgiou. An injury forced him to miss the following Olympics, but he made a stunning comeback in 2010 becoming the first Indian to win an individual medal at the Asian Games, taking home the silver. He then followed his Asian Games triumph with an even better show at the World Cup that year, taking home the gold medal in the men’s team event.
The following few years were a rollercoaster for Rai, as a disappointing 2012 Olympic campaign followed by not making the team for the Rio Olympics in 2016 hampered his progress. The veteran teamed up with Pravin Jadhav and Atanu Das in 2019 to take the silver medal at the World Archery Championship to help India take full-quota allocation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
As Rai heads into his third Olympics, he will look to use all his experience along with his talent to bring home the gold in the men’s individual and men’s team events.
(Did you know? Rai has a very famous cousin, former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia.)
Pravin Jadhav (Men’s Individual and Men’s Team)
The 24-year-old heads into his first Olympic campaign at the Tokyo Olympics this year.
Jadhav overcame multiple hurdles in his childhood to follow his dream of archery. He made his international debut at the 2016 Asian Cup Stage 1, where he took home the bronze medal in his debut event for the national team. He also represented the B team the same year at the 2016 Archery World Cup in Medellín.
Jadhav was part of the 2019 World Archery Championship team which consisted of Atanu Das and Tarundeep Rai that booked a place in the 2020 Olympics. Heading into his first Olympics, Jadhav will take confidence from the fact that he topped the Indian trials earlier in the year, beating both veterans Rai and Das. He will be competing in the men’s individual event and the men’s team event alongside his fellow compatriots.