Three is a team for champion archers at Asian Games

  • Ajai Masand, Hindustan Times, Incheon, South Korea
  • Updated: Sep 28, 2014 03:51 IST

Rajat Chauhan doesn't care what people say about him or his academic qualifications. For his teammates, he is the most 'bindaas' (carefree) character in the team.

Ask him if he is employed, and pat comes the reply, "Jab tak arrow target par lag rahe hain, mujhe kaam karne ki zaroorat nahin (as long as my arrows are hitting the target, I don't need to work). Waise bhi main dimaag ka paidal hoon (as it is I don't have the brains to do well in academics)."

Such self-deprecating jokes surprise you, but "he has always been like that", says fellow archer Sandeep Kumar. Then watching his photographs being flashed on Indian news channels on his mobile, Rajat says, "Kya maine sach much itna bara kaam kara hai kya (have I really achieved such a big thing)."

Sandeep jokes that Rajat's "battery remains charged all day long, he never rests and is playing pranks on everyone."

It indeed was on Saturday as India clinched the men's team gold in compound archery. Inspired by his elder brother, a green belt in taekwondo, Rajat too started taking martial arts classes and earned the yellow belt, but then found archery "interesting" and enrolled himself at the Sports Council Hostel at Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur.

He holds in high regard the two coaches he trained under - Kamlesh Sharma and Dhaneshwar Maheda. "They brought me to a level where I could get into the national camp. Bahut mehnat ki after that (worked really hard after that)."

Lucky break

Sandeep Kumar hails from Jind district in Haryana. It was by chance that he was spotted by coach Sunil when he was shopping for grocery in Ranchi. "I had gone to Ranchi for a competition and was buying some stuff in the market when the coach came and said, 'I have this feeling that you can be a successful archer'. I was taken aback.

"When I joined the Army, I didn't know anything about archery. All I wanted to do was become a pistol shooter of repute after watching Om Prakash and Hariom (both shooters competed in Incheon) who are also from the Jat Regiment," says Sandeep.

He is the opposite of Rajat, serious and introspective. "The news about my winning the team gold has reached my regiment and all hell will break loose the moment I reach Delhi," he says. "It's a coincidence that the day I've won gold, the unit is coming to Delhi from Arunachal Pradesh."

Capital connect

Abhishek Verma is the quintessential "Delhi ka munda" with a shimmering diamond earring complementing his outgoing personality. To stay in touch with the sport after completing his studies, this Model Town lad started coaching Hansraj College students and today he has a big following. "But for them, I would have forgotten all my archery skills," he says, adding that his motivation was wrestler Sushil Kumar's bronze and Abhinav Bindra's gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Rajat is again getting restive. "I have a headache and need to do something about it." When someone tells Rajat - he is also a big fan of Abhinav Bindra - that he talks a lot, he retorts, "Acchi baat hai na, Bindra toh bolta hi nahin hai (isn't it good that I talk a lot, Bindra doesn't talk at all)."

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