The absence of a recognised national federation has dried up funding for Indian archers, who did not get enough time to acclimatise to the conditions in Jakarta ahead of the Asian Games, recurve coach Sawaiyan Manjhi lamented on Tuesday. Manjhi said the Indian archers should have trained in Jakarta for a month to get acclimatised to the conditions and also played some test events. But since the Archery Association of India (AAI) is de-recognised, there were no funds for foreign training and competitions for the archers before the Games.
“The government does not provide funds to a de-recognised body. Funding is the main issue. We should have come here last year at the same time and train here for at least a month then we would have been in a better frame of mind,” Manjhi told PTI. “Or we should have played some test events ahead of the Games.”
The Indian compound archers trained in Sonepat while the recurve archers trained in Jamshedpur and Pune. High-altitude Pune has pleasant weather while Jakarta is very hot at this time of the year. Manjhi said Indian archers won four medals at the Incheon Asian Games because they stayed in the Korean city for a month, going into the event.
At the Incheon Games, India savoured its best-ever performance with Abhishek Verma (silver) and Trisha Deb (bronze) winning medals in the individual compound events. The men’s compound team emerged champion ahead of South Korea and the women compound team also won a bronze.
“No sponsor is coming forward to support archers. There are few people like OGQ, who help but others are not coming because the Federation is de-recognised,” Manjhi said. “There are huge financial issues. Though SAI has helped athletes by giving money from TOPS but there are few things which only the Federation can do,” he added, explaining the issues plaguing archers and coaches.
Manjhi believes host Indonesia will do well because the conditions are best known to them. “You will see them doing well. If they were at some other place, they would fare different but they are definitely expected to do better here. Understanding conditions is very important.”
AAI was de-recognised by the government in December 2012 for not following the Sports Code. The Delhi High Court had appointed former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi as observer-cum-administrator to resolve all the issues that led to the Federation’s de-recognition.
However, nothing has been done as yet. “Quraishi had called for elections and nominations were ready to be filed but a faction approached Supreme Court which ordered that new constitution be framed and elections be conducted as per the new constitution,” a Federation official said.
When approached, Deepika Kumari, country’s top archer, admitted that not training in Jakarta may have an impact. “It does make a difference,” she said in a terse reply.
India’s compound coach Jiwanjot Singh Teja said the archers should not suffer because of administrative issues. “If the government had to take some action, they should have banned people, why de-recognise the Federation and why should archers suffer? Last year, the national championship was not held. And even if you win the championship, the medal and certificate will count for nothing because the Federation is de-recognised,” he said.
“Archers who are not financially well off are suffering. They used to get concession of 75 per cent from Railways for travel to competitions and training but now it has been stopped because the body is de-recognised.”
The best part, though, is that the government provided the archers with the best possible equipment for the Asian Games. “We had asked the government to provide 2 sets to archers for the Asian Games. They helped in a big way by giving 2 sets to TOPS archers and one set each to others. The archer has to shoot with only six arrows but they should have spare in case any arrow suffers damage,” Teja said.
One international standard bow cost anything between Rs 3-4 lakhs while a 12-set arrow costs Rs 45,000.