It was as if the world was conspiring against Jayanta Talukdar, Rahul Banerjee and Tarundeep Rai in their bid to qualify for the London Games. But somehow the men's archery team managed to brave the odds.
It was 5am in India when they ensured that only for the second time Indian archery would have full representation at the Games. The only time both the men's and women's teams qualified was at Athens in 2004.
The ongoing World Cup at Ogden, USA, provided an unconventional opportunity — this is the first time that archery's world governing body, Fita, decided to open a second window for Olympic team qualification at a World Cup.
“There was huge pressure. Also, we had brought added pressure upon ourselves by complaining against the facilities at SAI last year. We knew if we failed, fingers would be pointed at us,” a relieved Banerjee told HT soon after India defeated Australia to enter the final of the qualification event. “The fact that the women's team had already qualified was a constant reminder for a year of what we had failed to achieve. Living with that knowledge was becoming unbearable,” he said.
HIGHS AND LOWS
Things had started to go wrong immediately after the team had landed in the US. Banerjee's equipment was lost in transit, only to be recovered on Thursday. It became more of a distraction than help because he had begun getting used to the borrowed bow of his roommate Talukdar.
Talukdar had sprained his neck by sleeping awkwardly during the flight and Rai had an irritating pimple on his chin which was restricting his draw. Talukdar's spare bow was tuned for Banerjee, which was a crucial compromise the team had to begin with.
Physio Joydeep Das Choudhury took care of Talukdar's neck. But poor Rai had to fight on with his 'chin up'.