Tracing the sport of archery in India
Archery is an ancient sport that is as old as the civilization itself. Archery finds mention in many ancient texts all over the world as an instrument of war. In India, everyone is familiar with the great archer Arjuna of the epic Mahabaharata. Archery is no longer an instrument of war but has become an international sport which is a part of many reputed championships such as Commonwealth Games and Olympics. The sport of archery requires great concentration, exceptional skills and excellent mental strength.
Advent of archery as a sport in India
Even though archery has been practiced in India since the Vedic period, it was only in the year 1970 that the country took it up as an official sport. A formal organization to encourage and promote the sport in the country was viewed as a necessity and this led to the establishment of the Archery Association of India in the year 1973. This was more than 70 years after Archery was first introduced in the 1900 Summer Olympic Games. Archery Association of India was tasked with the job of training rooky archers to compete both at the national and international level.
Performance of Indian Archers
There were some very talented archers who appeared in the 1980s such as Limba Ram, Syam Lal, Krishna Ghatak and Lalrem Sanga Changte. It was at the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul where an Indian archery team competed for the first time. However, India’s best team performance came at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games when Limba Ram featured among the top 6 archers of the world.
Indian archers failed to get a berth in the 1996 Olympic Games. However, in the year 2003 the Indian team comprising of Tarundeep Rai, Satyadev Prasad, Vishwas and Majhi Sawaiyan won the Silver Medal in the Olympic Round Team Event of the Asian Archery Championship held at Yangon, Myanmar.
Tarundeep Rai became the first Indian to win an individual men’s silver medal in archery at the 16th Asian Games held in China in 2010. Dola Banerjee holds the distinction of being India’s first ever international level woman archer. She won the gold medal at the 2007 World Cup. Jayanta Talukdar is another big name in Indian archery. In the year 2006, he won India’s maiden World Cup title and was ranked 1 in the World Rankings in 2009.
Deepika Kumari is one of the most successful archers of India and has many medals to her credit. She won the gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. She qualified for both 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games but success eluded her on both the occasions.