Indian archers, preparing for the June 18-24 final Olympic qualifying tournament at Ogden (US), are in a fix. With limited consumable equipment, including arrows and nocks at their disposal, their training is going off-target.
“It’s always an advantage to have adequate stock when preparing for an event like the Olympic qualifiers,” said an archer attending the preparatory camp in Gangtok.
Passing the buck
While the archers suffer, the Archery Association of India (AAI) and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) are busy passing the buck. While the AAI has squarely blamed SAI for not providing them timely financial assistance, a top SAI official said there was adequate equipment to train.
AAI’s assistant secretary, Gunjan Abrol, said, “We had given our demand for equipment six months back. Since funds (Rs. 25 lakh) were credited into AAI's account only four days back, the procurement process got delayed.”
But SAI’s regional director, Radhika Sreeman, who is also overseeing the Teams wing, said there was no shortage."The archers are not only getting equipment from SAI but from other sources as well. Hence, the question of shortage doesn’t arise," she said.
The big point
The issue of lack of equipment had become the talking point a couple of weeks back. The AAI 'procured' some equipment during the May 1-6 World Cup in Antalya, whereby they distributed a sum of Rs. 3.5 lakh among the seven-member squad to make individual purchases.
“It was just a stopgap arrangement,” said an archer from Gangtok.
Abrol didn’t divulge the details of the equipment AAI plans to import with the R25lakh received from SAI, only saying that it would be imported directly from manufacturers in Korea and Europe. “The process will take about two weeks,” he said.
During the 2010 Commonwealth Games preparatory camp, the archers got the equipment just a fortnight before the mega event.
“It didn't do us any good,” said Olympian Dola Banerjee, who is the president of the players' association formed during the last nationals after she had lost hope of making it to the London Games and even failed to make it to the Railways team.
“We were in the (CWG) camp for nearly two years and never got the required equipment. But just 15 days before the CWG, the AAI gave us the equipment, including arrows, which were of no use.”
Top archer, Tarundeep Rai, who is the vice-president of the players' association, told HT that changing the bow just six months before a major competition is suicidal. “There should be better planning… at least one year in advance,” he said.