The Indian women's recurve archery team has qualified for Rio Olympics 2016, bringing in good news from the sport after some unwanted spotlight.
Archers Deepika Kumari, Rimil Buriuly and Laxmi Rani Majhi survived anxious moments before getting past Germans in the Round of 16 at the World Championships at Copenhagen on Tuesday. The win ensured they advanced to the quarterfinals, which was the pre-requisite to qualify for the Olympics.
What's more, the win also broke a chain of bad publicity for the archers.
The archers have been copping a lot of heat for all the wrong reasons.
First, allegations surfaced during the last National Ranking Tournament in Patiala that internationals were deliberately shooting badly to ensure others did not qualify to represent India.
And then came the big miss of archers missing the bronze medal play-off while representing India at the World Universiade Games held in Gwangju, South Korea.
Following this fiasco, coach Jiwanjot Singh and three archers including Kanwalpreet Singh from the Association of Indian Universities affiliated tournaments were banned.
According to Rimil, the quota win ensures the negative publicity that surrounded the sport takes a back seat. "Us winning the quota covers for all bad publicity that we generated for bad form or any mistake," she told HT."It is certainly one of the better days that we have seen is sometime."
(L-R) Rimil Buriuly, Laxmi Rani Majhi, Deepika Kumari and coach Poornima Mahato in an upbeat mood at Copenhagen, Denmark, after qualifying for the World Championship finals and booking the ticket to Rio Olympics 2016. (Archery Association of India Photo)
But starting off, booking a ticket for Rio seemed long way off as the trio did not do well during the qualification rounds. They were placed 10th with a combined total of 1907 points.
That earned them a round of 16 tie against the less fancied German team. That said, India were trailing against their opponents before completing the turnaround 5-3 win.
The trio went on to comfortably win their quarterfinal tie against Colombia 6-2, but their toughest fight came in the semifinal against the Japanese.
The tie went to a shoot-off after both the teams were locked 4-4 after the end of the regulation sets. A hat-trick of perfect score of tens from Deepika, Laxmi and Rimil meant a clear passage to the final. They prevailed 30-27.
Interestingly, India's final opponent on Sunday will be the Russians, who created a flutter after they downed the mighty South Koreans in another tense shoot-off (28-27).
Men crash out
However, the men's recurve team crashed out at the first elimination hurdle against Italians in a shoot-off.
While comfortably leading 4-2 going into the deciding set, a slip up by Mangal Singh Champia, who shot a six, opened the doors for the Italians to level it 4-4.
In the ensuing shoot-off, Rahul Banerjee needed to shoot a nine to ensure quota, but he shot a seven.
In the men's compound team event, the Indian team lost to Denmark 232-224 in the quarterfinals, while the women lost to South Africa.