As lockdown halts immediate plans, AAI turns to long-term program

New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) The Archery Association of India’s (AAI) priority this year was to conduct the national championships that were to be held in 2019 and the trials for the Tokyo Olympics. It had also planned on launching a franchise-based Indian Archery League.

However, the outbreak of coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown in the country has brought the AAI’s plans to a halt and now, it has turned to its grassroots program.

“Our plan was to conduct the nationals as soon as possible. Because of this lockdown, that has not been able to go through. For now, we are doing a coach’s seminar. We are reaching out to about 800 coaches and it is turning out to be quite effective. I have received messages even from Kargil that they are very happy with the programme,” said AAI secretary-general Pramod Chandurkar.

Classes are being taken by Indian and foreign coaches affiliated with the World Archery.

“Allied sciences like psychology and nutrition are also being touched upon in the sessions. It is not always just about practice and hard work,” said Chandurkar.

“There has to be a scientific backup to create world class athletes. This seminar will go on till May 3. After that I am trying to get a program to get develop archers at the grassroot level for which we need coaches in every village and small town.”

With regards to preparations for the Olympics, Chandurkar said that the World Archery itself will restart operations only in June. While he says that the AAI was ready for the Games and had identified medal prospects, it is taking into account the possibility of new players to emerge in the next one year with the Olympics itself being postponed to July 23, 2021 due to the pandemic.

“From our end, we were prepared for the Olympics. All the medal prospects that we had identified already participated once in the Olympics in 2016,” said Chandurkar. “So they have an idea what they need to do, whether it be Deepika (Kumari) or Atanu (Das). Some of them also know that this could be the last Olympics for them also, so they themselves are motivated.

“Now that it has been postponed by a year and we are happy with it because we have got another chance to prepare better. We have got extra time and we want to use it.

“Instruction we have got thus far is that World Archery will start functioning in June. Women’s qualification is remaining for us. Apart from that in the next one year there could be a lot of new prospects that could come forward. We are also considering that possibility while taking trials. If those kids are good they can get valuable experience in Tokyo for the 2024 Olympics as well.”

The proposed Indian Archery League for now is on the backburner. “We had spoken to a few companies about this and taken their inputs on the financial and logistical aspects of it. We had requested a final proposal from them so that we could evaluate which one had the best offer,” said Chandurkar.