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Siblings, take a bow

On Saturday evening, Dola Banerjee was quietly watching proceedings away from the limelight that is usually on her at an archery ground. Nilankur Das reports.

other Updated: Jul 15, 2012 00:53 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times

On Saturday evening, Dola Banerjee was quietly watching proceedings away from the limelight that is usually on her at an archery ground.

The SAI Eastern Centre had organised a sending-off ceremony for India's archery squad for the London Olympics and after participating in the last two editions, the 30-year-old twice World Cup champion and the only Indian to have won a World Cup grand final was not in it.

Dola's parents Ashok and Kalpana were very proud, nonetheless. Their son Rahul would be making his first Olympic appearance.

"This was probably Dola's last chance to qualify for the Olympics. It would have been great if both had made it to the Games together. But even then, we are proud of what she's achieved over the years. She has been an icon in the sport and an idol for so many budding archers," Ashok told HT.

The women's archery squad was finalised soon after it had earned qualification for the Games by winning silver at the World Championships in Turin last year. Dola was nursing a back injury then and though she took part in the trials, she finished way down in the rankings. She even failed to make it to the Railways team for the national championships in Jamshedpur earlier this year.

"There are not many parents in India who can boast of both their son and daughter taking part in the Olympics. I am a little disappointed I could not make it to the squad but Rahul will carry the family flag. He grew out of my shadow when he won the Commonwealth Games individual gold medal. I am sure he will make the country proud once again," Dola told HT.

Coming into his own

"Rahul has grown out of fighting over rasogollas with me. He is mature and has excelled under pressure. It is not easy for an archer to adjust to someone else's bow so quickly and help India win Olympic qualification." Dola was referring to Rahul losing his bow box in transit on way to Ogden, USA, for Olympic qualification last month.

The last brother-sister duo to represent India at the Olympics were quarter-milers KM Beenamol (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004) and her brother KM Binu (Athens 2004). They created history at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan becoming the first Indian siblings to manage podium finishes on such a big stage. Beenamol won gold in women's 800m and 4x400 relay and Binu won silver in men's 800m.

The archery squad will leave for New Delhi on Sunday morning where there will be a sending-off ceremony by the Indian Olympic Association. They head for London on Monday morning, the day the Games Village is opened.

First Published: Jul 14, 2012 23:17 IST