The Indian women's recurve archery team did not make it to the final. But it would be fair to say the trio of Deepika Kumari, Rimil Buriuly and Dola Banerjee missed Indian archery's first ever gold in the Asian Games by a whisker.
Pitted against world and Olympic champions South Korea, India were right there throughout the match. After a disappointing 8 by Rimil in the final round, Dola needed a 10 with her last arrow to get India into the final. She missed by a whisker to leave the scores tied at 221-221. But then the trio shot a poor 26 in the three-arrow shootout against South Korea's 29 and had to settle for the bronze medal play-off against Chinese Taipei.
Trailing Chinese Taipei all along and, at the half-way stage by a massive 8 points, India regrouped with some consistent shooting by Rimil and Dola and finally won 218-217.
Deepika, who won individual gold in the Commonwealth Games, was not up to the mark. But the effort was good enough for a first ever medal at the Games by the women. The men's team had won bronze in Doha 2006.
"This medal will come as a boost in the individual events. The team medal was a first for us at the Games and we hope to build on this success in the coming years," Deepika said. Sounding a warning to the Koreans, she added, "They should start taking us more seriously. We fought neck-and-neck but luck favoured them today."
India played a gamble and it paid off. A country can either name its three archers for the team event before the qualifying round starts or the top three finishers in the qualifiers get to represent the team by default. India's gamble was that the Archery Association of India secretary-general Pareshnath Mukherjee had named the women's team as Dola, Rimil and Deepika before the qualifying round itself.
Thank god he did. For going by the qualifying scores, Dola, whose finishing the bronze-medal match against Chinese Taipei with a 10 that turned out to be the crucial difference between the teams, would not have been there in the competition. Dola had finished 29th in the qualifiers, fourth among the four Indians behind L. Bombayla Devi.
Bombayla, Dola and Deepika had won India the gold medal in the team event in Delhi Games. "We generally do not change the winning combination. It sometimes has a negative effect. But Bombayla was struggling for form at CWG and I wanted to give Rimil a look in. I never thought it would be Dola who would finish fourth," an elated Mukherjee told HT.