Updated: July 23, 2021 5:23:38 pm
West Bengal will be represented by just three athletes at the Tokyo Olympics– archer Atanu Das, paddler Sutirtha Mukherjee, and gymnast Pranati Nayak.
Atanu Das (Archery)
The ace Indian archer will be competing in the men’s individual, men’s team, and mixed team event in Archery. Born and raised in Baranagar, Das was just 14 years old when he started practicing archery. He sealed his spot at the Olympics with a silver medal at the 2019 World Championships. Das is married to fellow archer Deepika Kumari, a former world no. 1 and an Olympian herself. He is currently employed with Bharat Petroleum’s sports promotion board.
Sutirtha Mukherjee (Table Tennis – Women Singles)
Hailing from Naihati in Kolkata, Mukherjee took up table tennis at a young age. As a right-handed player, she plays an attacking style and her favourite shot is the backhand smash. 25-year-old Sutirtha Mukherjee’s story is truly an inspiring one as she overcame a ban (for alleged age fraud) and made it to the Tokyo Games after missing out in Rio Olympics.
Realising the dreams of making their maiden, second and fourth Olympic appearances, #TeamIndia🇮🇳 paddlers seal their #Tokyo2020 berths at the Asian Qualifiers in Doha! Congratulations @ttfitweet 👏🏓🗼 pic.twitter.com/Q1hfGQsqkI
— Team India (@WeAreTeamIndia) March 19, 2021
She sealed her berth in Tokyo after overcoming a tough challenge by Manika Batra at the Asian Olympic Qualification.
Pranati Nayak (Artistic Gymnastics – Women All Around)
Hailing from the Midnapore district in West Bengal, Nayak is the only gymnast to represent India at the Olympics. She will be competing in artistic gymnastics which includes vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. The 26-year-old is a bronze medallist in vault at the 2019 Asian Artistic Gymnastics Championship ( held in Mongolia).
Glimpses from Pranati Nayak’s evening session at IG Stadium, New Delhi.
— SAIMedia (@Media_SAI) July 16, 2021
She qualified for the Olympic Games via a continental quota spot as the 2021 Asian Championships was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Bengal low count
India’s highest representation comes from the state of Haryana with 30 athletes across 5 sports. Compared to that Bengal is a lowly three.
Johor Das, Secretary of Bengal Olympics Association, outlined a few reasons behind the dwindling numbers.
“This is a fault of officials. People here are busy to avail post rather than focusing on growing an athlete. There is a gap in society as well, as parents nowadays are unwilling to send their kids for athletics. Nobody wants to play body contact sports because everyone wants to be a cricketer,” he told the indianexpress.com.
“Coronavirus has also been a massive spoilsort. That is why we are probably lagging behind. The state government does help various associations but there is a lack of proper coordination and planning,” he rued.
However, Manoj Tiwary, West Bengal’s Minister for State for Affairs of Sports and Youth sounded optimistic when he spoke to indianexpress.com and said, “We will target more athletes, a plan is there but it is a long-term process which is in the pipeline. To be honest, there are proposals and you will see that there is a massive change that will happen in due course and Bengal will not send three but more athletes in the next Olympics.”
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