Overawed by Lord’s, we lost it in the mind
I don't think we were prepared for an event as big as the Olympics. The World Championship in Turino for the men's team did not go well and we failed to book an Olympic berth.
But the way we bounced back in Ogden, USA, and earned a London berth, showed we were peaking at the right time. Even then, everything went wrong in London.
This was my first Olympics and it has been a big lesson for all of us. We now know that trying to hit bullseye for hours at training is not enough for such an event. We needed something more.
People who were with us all these years and saw us train would say that had the squad not taken ill just after checking into the Village, things could have been different. But I believe that would be an excuse. Yes, if we were all fit, the scores could have been slightly better. But we had gone to the Olympics believing we could win a medal. Our performance was nowhere close. We lost it in our minds.
Olympic preparation is different --- the format of shooting, setup, crowds and the huge media presence. Frankly, we are not used to this. We are also not used to shooting inside a stadium. Everybody knew where the event was going to be held. Even then, except for just two weeks in Gangtok, we did not train inside a stadium.
Getting into Lord's, in front of so many people, some actually cheering for us, was way beyond our imagination. It was new for a lot of other teams as well. They too were overawed, even the Koreans were. But they stayed confident. We choked.
The media wrote about the team missing the services of a full-time physio. Yes, we did. But that wasn't the only thing. We missed a mental trainer right through our camp. We had repeatedly asked for one but somehow it did not work out.
I am not saying that if we had got a trainer, we would have won gold. I am saying this to make my point that training and preparation are two different things.
Archery has evolved a lot since the 1990s. But we prefer to hold on to our tried and failed methods. It's time we took the next step. Or we can stay happy basking in the glory of our World Cup medals and World Cup ranking, thinking the world is at our feet. For now, Olympic medals will have to wait.
(The writer is an India archer and a former world No. 1)