Replicating conditions of International venues key to India's Olympic success
Mangal Singh is an Indian archer who has represented India in many International tournaments. He has won medals at the Asian Games, World Cups, Archery Championships and has even represented the country at the Olympics.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Mangal Singh spoke about his career so far, his inspirations, the importance of mental health, challenges faced by archers and promoting the sport at the grassroot level.
When were you first introduced to archery? When did you realize that it’s a sport you can pursue professionally?
I had heard about archery during the 1992 Olympics while Limba Ram sir was playing. My elder brother told me about him and the Olympic games. In 1993, the Sports Authority of India were carrying out selection trials in our school and that’s how I got formally introduced to the sport. I was selected for the SAI after the trails and went to Ranchi, Jharkhand. In the same year, we participated in the state championship. I was extremely impressed by the new ground, top archers and the atmosphere there. I really thought I could play like them. So that's how it started.
Who have been some of the most influential people in your journey so far?
Limba Ram sir, Japan's Olympic medalist Yamamoto and Olympic Champion Justin Huish. I saw him a couple of times on my TV and I also had his video cassette, which I would ardently watch to make a note of his shooting style and all the preparations he did. I have also met Yamamoto a couple of times. They were my idols and motivated me in my career.
What is the most memorable moment of your career?
It has to be the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar, Doha where we won the very first medal for the country as India hadn't won any medals in the Asian games. That was my biggest and most memorable achievement.
In 2009, you received the Arjuna Award by the President of India. How proud are you of that achievement?
I'm very proud. Especially for all the hard work and training my coaches put in me and I could live up to their expectations. I'm proud of myself and my coaches. I put up relentless hard work for it. By the time I was honoured with the Arjuna award, I had played in the Olympics, earned medals at Asian Games, World Cup, Commonwealth and at state levels. I’m proud that I could do it for my country and got rewarded for the same.
What do you think of India’s chances of winning medals at archery in the Tokyo Olympics?
Yes I definitely believe India can win medals at archery. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the players in training camps will not have distractions and can only focus on the preparations. They are not even allowed to go outside or get holidays during the weekends. I think it’s a good time to prepare since they can focus all their attention to archery. I have big hopes pinned on them for the upcoming Olympic games.
What can be done to promote archery at the grassroot level?
The first thing I would like to say is that archery academies should be opened at the village level and archers at every level should be given the necessary equipment along with access to physiotherapists, doctors and massages for rest and recovery. Archers are expected to practice from morning to the evening and the shoulders face a lot of strain which becomes painful. That’s why physiotherapists and doctors are necessary. The cities already have academies but the villages don’t, and if we hope to compete at the highest level, these facilities are necessary.
As a professional archer who has competed at many International tournaments, how important would you say is mental health to be successful?
That’s a good question, not just for archers but the sport. Mental health, psychology and training the mind to achieve a balance is necessary. Archers also have to learn to do yoga to control breathing, it's important for the mind and body to work cohesively. Only after all this has been achieved can the mind focus at its maximum capacity to shoot on target. If you’re not mentally strong, you will be distracted and that’s why breathing and yoga are so important to remain mentally focused.
What are the challenges Indian archers face and what can be done to solve them?
Let’s assume there is no problem with the equipment or physical and mental fitness. The next challenge lies in replicating the conditions where the next tournament is held. Training needs to be held in conditions where the wind pressure, speed, direction and temperature are almost identical to where the tournament is taking place. This will help archers be better prepared for what’s to come and use their training before the tournament to achieve better results.
What would be your message to aspiring archers in the country?
The challenges that archers face, whether it’s at a physical or mental level are very demanding. It requires patience and discipline and archery helps people improve their lives. It’s a sport that teaches you a lot of things that can be applied in daily life. Archery requires speed, power, patience and mental strength just like any other sport. Aspiring archers should not get disheartened if they don’t manage to achieve many medals in the sport because they will learn a lot of qualities that will help them in life.
Who are the people who have helped you in your journey so far?
Whatever I have achieved is because of other people, my coaches, the AAI secretary general Mr. Paresh Nath Mukherjee, Andhra Pradesh district president Mr. Cherukuri Satyanarayana and my brother who used to take me on the cycle from the village to my training center. The players, officials and coaches have helped me reach where I am, I hope they pray for me and help me going forward so that I can achieve more. I also want to thank the media who tell the public about us and make us heroes.
The two most important factors that makes good archers is a coach's eye and an archers brain
Ace Indian archer Rahul Banerjee has played an important part in putting the nation at the forefront in archery with achievements at the national and international stage. From winning gold medals at the World Cup to Olympics appearances, he has been there and done that and now sets his sights on giving back to the sport that has made it all possible.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Rahul Banerjee spoke about his journey so far, the influence of his sister, the Dola and Rahul Banerjee Sports Foundation, challenges archery faces at the grassroot level, India’s chances at the Tokyo Olympics and his plans for the future.
How big of an influence has your sister Dola Banerjee been in your journey as a professional archer?
My sister is a huge support, not just when I started doing well but right from the time I began archery. I didn’t have much interest in archery at the age of 8 or 9 but my parents pushed me to do archery because my sister was doing well. Initially it was really boring because you have to stand in one place. I slowly gained interest and got a medal at the state level and got recognized by my school principal in the auditorium during the morning prayer. This helped me gain interest in archery but it’s a sport where equipment is necessary. In the bow, there are about 15 to 18 parts from all over the world. There is equipment from Korea, US and Germany and affording it at that time was very difficult. I started with my sister's old equipment and later when she was working at Tata Steel, whenever she travelled for international tournaments, she would get me equipment from the money she earned. Dola has been a huge support for me.
How different is the preparations for the Olympics compared to any other tournament?
The preparation for the Olympics is definitely different from other tournaments. The preparation is different not technically but mentally. Out of the 92 or 93 teams, only 12 countries qualify for the Olympics and the top 32 archers from around the world. Even participating in the Olympics is a huge thing so to reach the podium the preparations should start at least 2 to 3 years in advance.
How important is mental strength to be successful at the highest level?
If the total score is 360, all the top archers are shooting the same score either in training or at tournaments. What separates them is the mental strength and preparation. Everything can go wrong if you’re not prepared at the tournament. At the highest level in archery, 80% is mental at times because in the elimination round you are facing 1 to 1 and have to be mentally strong to win. The pressure is completely on you since it’s not a league match but an elimination round and if your opponent has shot 10 and you have shot 9 then you have to shoot one arrow more to break the tie breaker which is very tough because your opponent will shoot first and you will shoot second or vice versa and it requires strength not just mentally but also you must be confident in your shooting. How will you be shooting, what will be your mental preparation before and during shooting, that’s the most important. I will not say meditation but mental strength and visualization is very important because you have to be prepared with your technique, for your opponent and the environment around you. Sometimes it could be rain, heavy wind which can move from different directions which requires careful planning and focus. Mental preparation is very important for any tournament in archery.
You and your sister started the Dola and Rahul Banerjee Sports Foundation in 2015. What motivated the two of you to begin such an initiative?
I had a plan and suggested to Dola that we should do something for others because even though we haven’t experienced poverty, we did face poverty in archery equipment. We were from a middle class family and when we needed equipment or coaching, we didn’t get enough support. Initially, it was my plan to start a foundation or a training center so that we could support others with our old equipment and help others with our technique and knowledge. Archery lacks grassroot level training and the basics of any sport is very important. That’s why the Koreans are very consistent and have been doing well since the last two decades because their basics are very strong and have high performing players that compete with each other. They are very consistent, the top 20 archers have a difference in scores of just 1 or 2 points. The objective of the foundation is to at least give basic training to archers because the basics is the most important. In India, even though there are a few academies that are still focused on basic training, most of the coaches, players, organizers and NGOs are only supporting the top archers. The support at the grassroot level is still lacking but my idea is that we can work full fledged in this foundation after we stop playing archery professionally. We want to give back to this sport, without archery I won’t know who I am. At least we’ll be connected with archery and do something for the community.
What are the challenges that are faced at the grassroot level to develop future archers that can compete for their country?
The most important thing is to convince parents. They don't understand that the Government provides support to not just archery but several sports with 'Khelo India' and with many other state government initiatives and that there is a future in sports just like we have in academics. Sports is the next big thing in India. If they are thinking of a secured job, a national level player can get a government job. Not everyone can become a doctor, lawyer or an engineer but in sports you have better chances. If you are focused you can win a medal at least at the National level. The biggest problem we see is the parents' inclination towards studies. Yes it's important but it's not everything, for example the popular belief is that archery is only a rural and tribal sport but it's actually it's not just that, it requires a lot of technique and sharpness. In my opinion two things go into making a good archer. A coach's eye and an archer's brain. The coach, especially in a sport like archery, should be sharp enough to immediately catch a player's mistake at an initial level, so that mistake doesn't get big and gets corrected quickly in a shorter frame of time. If a coach is not focused enough on the mistake and doesn't correct it or a good player doesn't correct the mistake that the coaches are pointing out about the various physical technicalities, then it gets problematic because he is not able to understand. Here's where studies and basic knowledge are important. In India, parents are scared if their children spend 5 hours a day in sports because they won't find the time to study and will end up failing their exams. They need to understand that archery is a sport not only of concentration, but of stability, focus and strength. If a child improves in all these four fronts, he will definitely excel in studies as well. This is what we are trying to create awareness about. I understand that not everyone can be a national player, but if a child gives it a try for at least 2 years and is unable to play at that level, his studies won't be disturbed. Bengali parents are more into football and academics so these are the issues we face, along with that we need a 70 m ground and equipment. We have started a training centre in Lake Gardens, we have also started an archery academy with the West Bengal government, a fully residential academy. It's free of cost, even the studies, they also give scholarships. Basically everything an archer needs to pursue the sport. We have very good coaches. I'm glad my sister and I have been able to start something like that. Funding is the biggest problem for a personal academy, for example, if there are 10 kids, we have to support 2-3 kids because they can't even afford minimum fees. Archery is a bit expensive, we have been doing things at personal level but we are also thinking of connecting to Khelo India. Many interested people don't take up this sport because they think it's extremely expensive even though it's not, you can start with the bare minimum equipment . We didn't have this facility at our times, but now if you get a medal at junior or sub junior level, you get a good amount of money to buy your own equipment and support your family. So these are the problems we are facing and trying to overcome, hopefully we will do better.
What are your hopes for the Tokyo Olympics? Are you optimistic of India winning medals in archery?
Definitely, this year we have a very good chance of winning medals. Especially in the mixed team team as it's the first time a mixed team event has been introduced. Though our women's team is yet to qualify but hopefully they will qualify. We have Deepika Kumari who has already qualified, our men's team has qualified, Tarun, Praveen and Atanu have been doing really well. At the Olympics, there are many thoughts running in the mind and holding your nerves during alternate shooting is important. If you clear your mind of these thoughts and focus only on the game then definitely there is a chance to win medals at the Tokyo Olympics. I think this is the best team that has ever participated in the games.
How challenging has it been to continue training amidst the lockdown and the COVID-19 restrictions? What have you been doing to keep yourself sharp?
I had a shoulder injury two years ago so I have been recovering since the last one year. One positive of the lockdown was I got a break to recover from my injury. Ialso became a father in February last year and got to spend a lot of time with my daughter. For the first two-three months, I had rigorous training in my drawing room at home. Training at home gets a bit tough when you have children around, the negativity of lockdown and tournaments getting cancelled made me start losing interest. Nevertheless, I started doing yoga and working out on my rooftop. That's how I spent my lockdown. Now I realise that during the eight month break, the ones who were left in their training centres like Tarun and others were lucky as they had full fledged training and fitness sessions. All this gets a bit tough while at home. For the last 2-3 months I have been preparing for the next year under a Korean coach at the Tata Academy so it was a tough time for me as I am starting from scratch because the coaches started from basic, 10 metre shooting, like a beginner. Hopefully by the end of March, I'll be back on track with distance shooting. Other than that, the lockdown wasn't all that bad for me.
What is your message to aspiring archers in the country?
The first thing is that archery is training, training and training under the supervision of coaches. That's of paramount importance because we have a lot of archery knowledge and techniques available on YouTube but you must consult a coach and follow a schedule or regime your coach has set. You need to put in a lot of hard work, you need to shoot as many arrows as you can as the more you practise, the more your technique will improve. Being confident in your technique is important. My message for aspiring archers would be that archery is not an easy game, but if you are passionate enough, you can do really well because it's the kind of game that teaches you a lot. I've been practising archery for the last 25 years and I cannot say that I know everything about archery as every 2-4 months you discover or come across some new mistake or faults, and thus even at the top levels you can come down. You need to have a control over your emotions and archery teaches you this. Last time at the Olympics, the world no. 1 lost in 1/32 match. That’s why archery is a totally unpredictable game. So many world number ones lose in the first match itself. My 3 mantras for archery are - patience, hard work and focus. You can be a good archer if you have all these.
Being a role model inspires me to become a better archer
Indian archer Deepika Kumari has had a decorated career. The recipient of the Arjuna Award and Padma Shri is currently ranked 9th in the World and is all set to represent the country at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Rising from humble beginnings, the daughter of Shivnarayan Mahato, a rickshaw driver and Geeta Mahato, a nurse at Ranchi Medical College, Deepika Kumari has scaled the heights of world archery and is hungry to achieve more. Reflecting on her journey so far, Deepika said “There are a lot of emotions attached of course, but when I sit back and reflect, I really wonder how far I have come from where I had initially begun. I still have a long way to go though.”
From practicing archery with homemade bamboo bows and arrows to training at the Tata Archery Academy, Deepika is thankful for the academy’s support for all that she has achieved. “The Tata Archery Academy has played a very big role. The coaches recognized my talent at the right time and polished my skills. They provided me with everything I needed at that time, right from good quality equipment to top notch coaching. I will always be very grateful to them for all this,” says Deepika.
Despite the obvious talent Deepika Kumari possesses, she credits her success to everyone who has played a part in her journey including those who dislike her. “It would be wrong to pick just one name as there are a lot of people involved behind an individual's success. So I would say right from my family to my entire team, the government and even people who don't like me, they are all my support. I had different coaches when I started my career in archery who taught me the basics of the sport and when I joined Tata Archery Academy, there were different coaches who helped me improve. I’m thankful to all of them, ” says Deepika.
With the COVID-19 pandemic taking a toll on the athletes preparations for the Tokyo Olympics, Deepika explains how challenging training under the restrictions has been. She says, “Archery is a very technical sport and getting practice during the lockdown was very difficult. It left us with very little time to continue training because the facilities were inaccessible and we had to overcome many obstacles. With the lockdown ending, it has become easier and we are working very hard while following all the COVID-19 regulations.” The pandemic has not just taken a toll on the physical preparations ahead of the biggest tournament in the world, but a mental one as well. Emphasizing the importance of mental health, Deepika Kumari said, “It (mental health) plays a very big role as your mindset is what gives you the confidence and I believe that in a sport like ours, 90% of the game is fought mentally.”
The former World number 1 was featured in a documentary ‘Ladies First’ by Uraaz Bahl that won an award at the London Film Festival. Her life story is an inspiration to millions of girls out there who consider Deepika Kumari a role model. “It feels great to be a role model and inspires me to do better,” said the Indian archer. Encouraging more girls to take up the sport, Deepika said, “Anyone can participate in sports, the only factors that are important is the support from your family and the determination to compete. There are many roads that will lead you to the destination, many academies have been set up and athletes can have a very good life. The important thing is to work hard, be focused and determined to achieve your goals. The beauty of sports is that there is no difference between big or small, boy or girl, caste or religion. It teaches us to look beyond these differences and learn teamwork, unity and treating everyone equally.”
Archery has not received as much attention from the media compared to cricket, and when asked if there is a lack of knowledge amongst the Indian masses about the sport, Deepika said, “It’s not like nobody knows or understands archery, there are many people who do, but archery is not a very popular sport. It’s not broadcasted enough on tv which is why people don’t really understand the sport and they find it very easy and boring.” The 26 year old has already achieved so much in her illustrious career and is focused on bringing the medals home at the Tokyo Olympics. When asked about her future plans, Deepika said, “I have no plans for the future, I don’t want to think so far ahead. I’m only focused on the Tokyo Olympics.”
Deepika Kumari is the most successful Indian archer, yet the elusive Olympic medal has been out of reach for the former World number 1. She will hope to set this record right at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and set a benchmark that Indian athletes in the future will aspire to reach. SPOGO wishes her the best of luck in future endeavours.
Archery coach Harendra Singh optimistic of India’s chances at the Tokyo Olympics
Veteran archery coach Harendra Singh has been a part of the archery circuit for over a few decades. An international coach, Singh has played a pivotal role at the national and state level and has also been actively involved in the development of archery at the grassroot level.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, he discussed the responsibilities of becoming the East Zone Talent Scout, the challenges the sport faces at the grassroot level, the experience of coaching at the International level, India’s chances at the Tokyo Olympics and coaching Deepika Kumari.
You have been nominated as the East Zone Talent Scout. What are your responsibilities in that role?
Firstly, I would like to thank the Archery Association of India and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for nominating me as the member of the East Zone Talent Scout and entrusting me with the responsibility of five states. I'll try to fulfill my responsibilities by giving my 100% and do my best to discover talents from these states so I can give the country and states more players.
How can India improve at the grassroot level to develop archers that can compete internationally?
I've been an archery coach for the last 25 years and I have observed that in order to develop archery at the grassroot level, such as under the 'Khelo India' scheme, the focus should be on the panchayat and school level. When we started in Jharkhand from the school level, 1000 archers had come and these kids did really well and even played for India, such as Rimil Biruli, Deepika Kumari and they started playing from the school level. In order to strengthen our grassroots, we need to focus on panchayat, block, zilla and schools with several small training centres opening up so that we grow stronger.
What are the challenges that you face in promoting archery as a sport and developing future athletes?
We have a lot of talented players as well as emerging players in this sport but the biggest challenge we face is that the equipment that is required is very expensive and we find it hard to provide for them. Even when we manage to get the government or sponsors ready for it, the process takes so long that the kids end up getting disheartened. However, under ‘Khelo India’ many kids are being provided with the equipment. So if all the kids are provided with them, especially focusing on the under 12 kids from school and panchayat level, we will have many more players like Deepika Kumari and Jayanta Talukdar.
You have been the Indian archery team coach in International competitions and have also trained the state team, what has the experience been like?
I was associated with the National Archery team for the last 12 years and I am currently working with the state team. I think our players do well when they are fit and compete with a positive mindset along with the killer instinct and intent to do well. Archers such as Deepika, Jayanata and Tarundeep Rai have that killer instinct which is rare in India. However, under ‘Khelo India’ and SAI camps, we have more physios and physiologists joining us, the players are getting more exposure. I believe that with more tournaments and International exposure, the players will gain more experience and their game will improve.
How optimistic are you of India’s chances of winning medals in archery at the Tokyo Olympics?
Our performance in the last two Olympics has been very good. The girls team at the last Olympics featured five archers and they performed exceptionally well. Indian archers have been doing well since the last 8-10 years. There are just a few things or a few points that needed to be worked on. The archers we presently have and the selection process that is currently going on is very good and both the men and women archers are at the same level which is why our country’s archery team is very strong. I’m optimistic that we will definitely win medals in both the men and women's category in the Tokyo Olympics.
The Archery Association of India has selected 24 compound men and women archers. Who do you think are the favourites to go through the final selection trials?
The method with which the top 24 players have been shortlisted and the selection process that has been undertaken is really good. The Archery Association of India and SAI are doing a great job at the selections together, with only those archers who can maintain their form and killer instinct such as Deepika Kumari and Tarundeep Rai being selected with the help of round robin events. I think Tarundeep Rai is a confirmed selection, while the number 2 and 3 could change.
You have been the coach of India’s most famous archer, Deepika Kumari. How proud are you of all her accomplishments?
I am very proud of the fact that when this girl joined archery, she was very weak physically. When we got her tested by some talent experts, her physique was lagging behind in some ways. She has worked extremely hard on herself. I remember she told me before the Commonwealth Games in Kolkata that she will definitely win a gold medal. She ended up winning two gold medals. I’m extremely proud that Deepika did what she set out to do and if we had three or more archers like her, we would definitely win at the Olympics.
Support for archery at grassroot level the only way to win medals in the future - Rimil Buriuly
Rimil Buriuly is an Indian archer who has represented India at many International tournaments. From the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China and the World Championships at Copenhagen Denmark to the biggest stage of them all, the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, she has done it all and is setting her sights to do even more.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Rimil speaks about her journey so far, the challenges faced by archers in India, her ambitions for the future and India’s chances at the Tokyo Olympics.
How and when did you get interested in archery?
I have always been interested in sports, ever since I was a child. I used to participate in all the sports events in school and when archery was introduced to me I tried that as well. It was a completely new experience for me and I realized that I was enjoying it, which is why I have steadily progressed to ultimately take up the sport professionally.
You have won many medals at the youth and senior levels and have also represented India at the Rio Olympics. How has your journey been so far?
My journey has not been very smooth but has not been very difficult either. The main reason for this is because ever since I was in school, the coaches were always available to us. The Jharkhand Archery Association did not have problems with equipment and I have received a lot of support from the association. Harendra Singh, who is the coach of Jharkhand was my first coach and his guidance supported me throughout my journey. After performing well in the juniors, the Tata Archery Academy selected me which eventually led me to participate at the International stage after a lot of practice. There were problems as well, I didn’t get a lot of support at home because they thought it’s not a safe game for girls and I should focus on my studies instead. Eventually when I started winning medals, they changed their minds about archery and realized that I should be given a chance.
What was your favourite moment in your career as an archer?
The most special moment in my career was the Asian Games in 2010, we were in the quarterfinals against Korea and we lost by just 1 point. The next match was against Chinese Taipei and it was very close with nothing to separate us and them. Right at the end, because of my arrow we got a line touch point. I still remember it, that moment was the most special for me in my career so far.
What are you doing currently and what are your future plans?
I’m still continuing archery and practicing despite so many tournaments getting postponed because of COVID. I’m making sure that I’m ready for any upcoming tournaments and despite the fact that we have won National tournaments, we always fall short of winning medals at the Olympics. My hope is to perform well at all the tournaments, especially the Olympics and win something for the country.
Do you envision yourself as a coach in the future and train the next generation of Archers?
Yes, I do think that once my career as an archer is over, I would like to see myself as a coach. In India there are many archers and the problem does not lie there, but with the coaches and the lack of them. I think I can be a good coach and help the children in my area. They are hard workers but the issue is the equipment, because it’s costly so I think I can help them with providing the equipment, their diets, guidance and support. I do hope that if I can make a difference and help them then I should.
What do you think are the challenges Indian Archers face? What can be done to solve them?
It has been 15 years since I have been involved in archery and whenever we go out for International tournaments such as Korea or the United States, I’ve noticed that they get a lot of support in terms of sponsorships and equipment. Indian archers face issues with getting equipment and the necessary infrastructure. This disparity might not be immediately visible at the highest level but is evident at the grassroot. Support at the grassroot level is the only way archers will develop and become capable of winning medals. Countries such as Korea and the US focus more on the basics, but no organization or association pays much attention to the grassroots in India. I think the most important issue that needs to be addressed is providing the facilities, equipment and guidance to children and having a clear plan of action to execute this. It can be summed up simply that the government or association should encourage archery in every school, help build academies and clubs to promote the sport at the grassroot level.
How important of a role does mental health play to be able to perform at the highest level?
Mental health plays a very crucial role in archery, it might appear that it is a physical sport but we also have to work on our heartbeat and breathing. Our coaches train us for meditation and imagination shooting. It's also very important that you stay positive and calm. So children should be trained for meditation and play mental games. Also, yoga needs to be practised regularly.
How do you prepare yourself before a tournament? What do you do in your spare time?
We begin by mentally preparing ourselves months in advance before big tournaments for example, for the World Championships we look for the previous scores and records and we prepare ourselves accordingly, like working on our average, if you have to hit an average of 340, we work and try to improve our shooting form and our mental status day by day. We plan things out and also maintain a diary. We make a note of our mistakes and then later try finding a solution to fix it so that's how we steadily prepare ourselves. Besides that, we compete with other athletes of our camps, we score, have team fights and individual fights to prepare ourselves.
In my free time, I enjoy listening to songs. We don't really go out because we only get one day every week for rest, so we use that day for recovery. We rarely go to malls or movies, we usually stay in our rooms and listen to music or play games to keep our minds fresh.
How do you think Archery as a sport can be promoted in India?
Like I mentioned before, we need to empower and strengthen academies and associations in order to tackle the problem of equipment for children. Their diet should be taken care of and camps should be held regularly so that children get to practise under proper guidance of the coaches. Schools, academies, associations and federations need to focus on ways to improve and encourage the sport. If these things are taken care of the improvement will automatically follow.
How have your coaches shaped you as a person and an athlete to make you the person you are today?
They have played a very big role, right from my childhood Harendra Singh has coached me. I started with recurve and within a short span of a year I won medals at sub junior national level. He focused a lot on me and after I came to the academy, I improved myself a lot under local and Korean coaches there. I think they (coaches) play a very important role in every sport. They are like all rounders that take care of you and manage you psychologically and technically. Whatever I'm today it's because of the coaches.
How optimistic are you about India’s chances in archery at the Tokyo Olympics?
I definitely think India can win medals at the Tokyo Olympics. We under-performed during the last Olympics and I believe we could have done much better. The Olympics is a big stage that every athlete dreams of playing in and works hard to win for their country but the environment is such that it gets a bit difficult to keep oneself stable and in control, especially athletes who are going there for the first time might get anxious. It is important to soak in the environment and if our Federation gives us practice in the Olympic set up or even if we practise in a similar set up, our performances would get better. For example: Korea gets their team selection trials done a year prior to the games and start practicing in the same set up as the Olympics to get their athletes used to the set up. Such things help you improve fast and help manage the panic that the Olympics environment can bring to ultimately bring some medals home. We have won medals in many sports, I’m sure we can win here as well.