Ankita Bhakat and Promila Daimary: The future of Indian archery

Both these archers have won medals for India on the international stage.

By Saurabh Shankar ·

With the Asian Archery Championships underway in Bangkok, Thailand, India’s hopes will be pinned on Deepika Kumari and Bombayla Devi to clinch an Olympics quota for the nation.

However, looking beyond the duo, India’s roster has two more young prospective archers in Ankita Bhakat and Promila Daimary, both of whom could light up the archery world in years to come.

The left-armed lady of Bengal

Hailing from Kolkata in West Bengal, Bhakat is currently the only left-arm archer representing the country. The daughter of a milkman, Bhakat was drawn towards archery after watching a local tournament in Kolkata’s Circus Maidan as a 10-year-old, after which she immediately signed up at a local archery club in the city.

However, with the cost of archery equipment running into lakhs, the main challenge facing young Bhakat was trying to make her family’s income cope with her sporting desires.

The young archer didn’t lose hope in the face of this struggle though and made do by borrowing equipment from the other students at her archery club. For the better part of her junior career, Bhakat did not own a bow and arrow set, and most of her formative training was undertaken using borrowed kits.

The year 2014 was a turning point in Bhakat’s career, as she joined the Tata Archery Academy in Jamshedpur and began training under some of the best Indian archery coaches, like Dharmendra Tiwari, Purnima Mahato and Ram Awdesh. Having access to some top-level coaches and facilities helped propel Bhakat’s career to the next level, as she began impressing at the junior level.

That eventually led her to participate in the 2015 Seoul International Youth Archery Festa and return from that tournament with two medals around her neck — a bronze in the girl’s individual recurve event and a silver in the team event. Bhakat also participated in the 2016 Indoor Archery World Cup in Bangkok, where she finished as the top-ranked Indian participant, ahead of Bombayla and Deepika.

Bhakat’s finest achievement came in 2017, when she, along with Jemson Singh Ningthoujam, claimed the gold medal at the World Archery Youth Championships in Rosario, Argentina.

The duo beat Russia 6-2 in the final to win India’s only gold at that tournament. She also participated in the 2018 Archery World Cup in Shanghai where she defeated compatriot Bombayla Devi but fell short in the fourth round against An Qixuan of China.

Having come this far at just 21, Bhakat has a bright future ahead of her and will surely become one of India’s key archers.

Pride of Assam

Another Indian prospect for the future is 22-year-old Promila Daimary, who won gold at the 2018 Archery Asia Cup in Bangkok. Hailing from Assam’s Udalguri village and born into a family of limited means, Daimary looked to sports and archery as a means to alleviate herself from poverty.

Daimary began her training early and soon got selected under the National Sports Development Fund programme, with sponsorship provided by the Indian sports ministry. The backing of the government behind her, Daimary soon blossomed on the international stage, competing for India at the highest level.

While the highlight of her nascent career thus far has been the Archery Asia Cup gold medal, Daimary has been knocking on the door in other international competitions as well. With a top 10 finish at the Berlin and Antalya World Cups this year, she has established herself as a promising athlete for India in the future.

With an eye firmly set on making it to the Tokyo Games, the Indian contingent will hoping that the youngsters come up with an inspired show to help them seal their place at the 2020 Olympics.