Want to know why our archers looked spooked at the London Games? If national coach Limba Ram is to be believed, other teams were doing black magic and witchcraft on our archers.
On their return to India, archers on condition of anonymity told HT that when things were going wrong in London, Limba would say that rival teams were taking recourse to the black arts to make their arrows to land off target.
Archers Jayanta Talukdar, Deepika Kumari and Rahul Banerjee denied any verbal spats but they had more than once asked Limba not to say any such thing.
Archery Association of India (AAI) general secretary Pareshnath Mukherjee did not wish to comment on this on Saturday, soon after Limba left for his home in Rajasthan because his contract as national coach was till the Olympics. But Mukherjee did not deny the coach saying this to the archers either. Limba is also a Sports Council officer in Rajasthan where the state government gave him land and has opened an academy in his name after he was awarded the Padma Shri last year.
After showing much promise in the build up to the Games, the Indian archers failed miserably, looking lost and very nervous on the hallowed Lord's ground, the competition venue.
Both the men's and the women's teams lost in their first elimination rounds, and except for Tarundeep Rai, Bombayla Devi and Rahul, the others bowed out in the first round of the individual event.
In hindsight, AAI must be thinking had it listened to the Indian Olympic Association's advice and not taken Limba with the squad to London, things could have been different.
The AAI could take only three members in their support staff and a manager for the Games. They chose Poornima Mahato, the women's team coach, Ravi Shankar, the men's team coach and Limba.
The AAI wanted to take a physiotherapist too but was given a choice that they could take either Limba, whose ability to give technical or psychological help to the archers in London was doubtful, or Patrick Kenny, the physio. Since Limba was the national coach and an icon in the sport, dropping him from the London squad was not an option.