India’s archers head to Bangkok, Thailand this week for the Asian Archery Championships slated to begin on Thursday (November 21). The event will be the penultimate competition for Asia’s archers to make the cut for the 2020 Olympics next year.
With an eye on Tokyo 2020, India have chosen a strong team for the Asian Archery Championships, with former top-ranked archer Deepika Kumari and veteran Bombayla Devi Laishram spearheading the Indian contingent.
However, despite having such high-profile names however, India can expect some stiff competition from the Chinese and Korean archers.
Chance to shine
Two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Deepika Kumari has had a largely forgettable year thus far, finishing ninth in the 2019 Berlin Archery World Cup as well as the 2019 Antalya World Cup. Her last gold medal at a major competition came in the 2018 Salt Lake City Archery World Cup, where she beat Germany’s Michelle Kroppen 7-3 in the final.
Despite her poor form of late, Kumari has time and again shown her class and quality on the big stage and has six World Cup gold medals to her name. She claimed a silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 test event a few months back, rising to the occasion when called upon. An undisputed big match player, the world number nine’s previous track record cannot be ignored come the Asian Archery Championships.
Fourth time’s the charm
Apart from Kumari, India’s main women’s prospect will be 34-year-old Bombayla Devi Laishram. She has participated in the 2008 Beijing, 2012 London as well as the 2016 Rio Olympic Games thus far and will now be in the reckoning to make the cut for Tokyo 2020. Laishram’s best-ever individual finish at the Olympics was when she finished ninth at the Rio Games.
Like Kumari, Laishram has also been struggling for form and hasn’t had a podium finish at a World Cup since 2016. She is currently ranked 34th in the world but her experience and track record could give her an advantage at a major competition like the Asian Archery Championships.
In the men’s category, India’s participants for the recurve event will be Tarundeep Rai, Atanu Das, Jayanta Talukdar and Atul Verma. While Rai and Das have already clinched Olympic quotas, the competition in Bangkok presents a good opportunity for the rest of the Indian archers to stake their claim for the 2020 Olympics.
None of India’s men’s archers though are in the top 30 in the world ranking, and start off the competition as underdogs.
The main challengers
In the women’s recurve category, three of the top five-ranked archers in the world will be participating in the Asian Archery Championships. Top-ranked
Kang Chae Young has been in sensational form of late, winning gold at the Moscow World Cup Final and the 2019 Summer Universiade World Ranking event in Naples.
21-year-old Zheng Yichai of China has also been impressive, winning gold and silver respectively at the Antalya and Shanghai World Cups.
The Asian Championships will see three Olympic quota places up for grabs. The competition is undoubtedly fierce, but can an Indian archer successfully target Tokyo 2020?