Tarundeep Rai glad to have company at archery camp again

With the national archery camp resuming this week, the veteran Indian archer believes the elite bunch will take about a month to get back in shape.

By Naveen Peter

Months after training in isolation at the Army Sports Institute (ASI) in Pune, veteran archer Tarundeep Rai will enjoy the company of Indian team hopefuls when the national camp gets underway this week.

While a handful of archers have hit the 70-metre range at the ASI facility, the likes of Atanu Das and Deepika Kumari are expected to join the group in the coming days after serving a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

“It’s good to have the guys back. But we need to be very careful,” said Tarundeep Rai speaking to Olympic Channel.

“Yes, it’s a good thing that the camp can finally resume after such a long break. But this doesn’t mean that we are COVID-19 free. We need to be extremely careful and ensure that all the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedure) are followed well.

“We need to be self-aware and take all the necessary precautions. One benefit that we have is that archery is not a contact sport. That’s an advantage given the situation that we find ourselves in.”

With most of the archers observing the lockdown since March, the 36-year-old Rai felt that they will take time to peak once again.

“I think it might take a while. From what I understand, they didn’t have the option of drawing a bow in the past months. So, to get back to where they were in the pre-coronavirus period will take a while,” the two-time Olympian said.

“The guys who are under quarantine have been advised to continue with their dry training (drawing technique/holding exercises) so that they will be at a certain level when they return to the range. I think, from thereon, the elite bunch should take about 20-25 days to regain their rhythm,” Rai reckoned.

However, the situation is a bit different for Tarundeep Rai, who along with Pravin Jadhav chose to stay back at the Army Institute during the lockdown period.

“I have a kid (son) back home, so going back was a bit tricky. I didn’t want to be the virus carrier for them,” the Sikkim resident said.

“And here, I don’t think my training was hampered much. Since I was here, I could hit the range frequently and shoot."

USA and South Korea have an edge

With no international events scheduled for the year, the Indian team is expected to take a cautious approach in the coming months.

But with no domestic competitions to test themselves, Tarundeep Rai believes it won’t be easy for them.

The Indian men’s team won a quota place for the Tokyo Olympics at the 2019 World Archery Championships in 's-Hertogenbosch. Photo: World Archery

“It’s a tricky situation. Yes, it’s an advantage that we don’t have any international events coming up or a qualification event coming up. So, we will have enough time to get back in shape,” the veteran archer said. 

“But then we won’t be having any domestic meets too during this period. So, how prepared will we be for an international competition is hard to say. 

“If you look at nations like the USA and South Korea, the archers there have been competing at various national events. 

“So, when an international event comes around, I think they will be in better shape since they have been shooting in a competitive environment back home too.” 

But despite the conditions, the Indian archer is putting in the hard yards hoping to make the Indian team for what will be his final Olympics in Tokyo next year.