With as many as four quota places sealed, young archer Akash Malik believes India can break their Olympic duck at Tokyo 2020.
India might be yet to clinch the entire set of quotas for the 2020 Olympics in archery that’s available to a nation, so it is little wonder that some of their young talents in the country are beginning to imagine how the team will fare at the Tokyo Games later this year.
Akash Malik, the archer who won a silver medal at the 2018 Youth Olympics, was confident in his claim forecasting the team’s performance at Tokyo 2020. “I am sure the Indian archery contingent will win a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” he told news agency PTI.
Malik will be in action at the 2020 Khelo India Youth Games that gets underway in Guwahati from January 10, and he believes the competition will aid him in helping prepare well for the national trials due in the coming months. “The players for the team will be selected through trials, which will be held early in 2020. Khelo India Youth Games will serve as a brilliant preparation for the trials,” the 17-year-old added.
Archery in India is filled with stories of athletes rising from unexpected places to lead the nation’s charge at the international. While the likes of Deepika Kumari, Laxmirani Majhi and other established names featuring as the prominent names, Malik is the latest addition to this list.
Growing up in the farmlands of Hisar in Haryana, a young Malik was pulled into the sport seeing his friends draw arrows. “I took up archery in 2016. I saw my friends practice archery in Hisar and then gradually, I developed an interest in the sport,” he said.
While the initial days were littered with tales of financial struggles and thoughts of giving up the sport, Malik’s rise through the ranks meant he was taken in by Olympic Gold Quest, an NGO that supports Olympic-bound athletes, in a year’s time.
“Initially, I faced financial difficulties to acquire equipment because archery is an expensive sport. As I progressed in my career, I received financial assistance from Sports Authority of India, Khelo India Games and the Olympic Gold Quest. I had gone for the Asian Championships trials in 2017 and that's where I was spotted by the Olympic Gold Quest. Things have been better since then,” he said.
With his eyes firmly set on making the Indian team for the Olympics, Malik will be eager to begin the New Year with some fine performance at the Khelo India School Games.