Italian star archer Sergio Pagni, who conducted a 10-day training camp with the Asian Games-bound Indian compound team, is excited to see the progress and said it was primed for success in Indonesia.
That India had won medals in all the four events of the compound section when the category was introduced in Incheon four years ago, makes them firm favourites in the August 18-September 2 extravaganza.
The 39-year-old, who is the only compound archer to have won successive ‘World Cup Final’ titles in 2010 and 2011, is working with the Indian team since January when the team visited him in Italy for two weeks.
“I’m really proud of this group, they are all world class. I am sure that they will come out with flying colours from the Games,” Pagni, a two-time World Championship gold medallist, told PTI from Sports Authority of India training centre in Sonepat.
“They have some experienced archers like Abhishek Verma and Rajat Chauhan but at the same time, the youngsters also shot consistently. The level we reached was very high.”
The women’s team, on the other hand, has attained a high ahead of the Asian Games by reaching the top of world rankings by virtue of their twin silver medal-winning efforts in the Antalya and Berlin World Cups. However, Pagni refused to predict the number of medals India will bag from the compound events.
“Every team will fight for the gold and will give their best. It’s about holding your nerves and executing your plans. In such a big competition, it all depends on how someone shoots on that given day. My best wishes to them,” Pagni said.
The Italian will be missed during the games but he said he would stay connected and follow their progress.
“I’ve given the instruction to the Indian coaching team who will accompany them. Moreover, my session was more about team building rather than correcting themselves. The likes of Abhishek and Rajat are highly experienced… I only made minor tweaks.”
Having earned more than a dozen medals at the world level in a career spanning over a decade, Pagni has no regret about not winning an Olympic medal, as compound is not an Olympic discipline.
India’s top compound archer Verma has voiced concern about it but Pagni said they must look beyond the Olympics.
“Definitely it’s a dream for any sportsperson to win an Olympic medal. But I cherish all my medals like winning the World Cup Finals, World Championships, they are all equally important.
“It’s just that Olympic comes once in four years. I’ve told them to strive for excellence be the number one in your sport. Personally, I don’t see coming it to the Olympics anytime soon. Stop regretting and focus on the better things on offer,” he said before signing off.
The compound events are slated in Jakarta from August 23-28 and the Indian archery contingent is slated to leave on August 13.