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Thursday, June 04, 2020

‘Good hope for archery medal now’: Tarundeep Rai finds positive in Olympics postponement

Tarundeep Rai says the positive aspect of the postponement of Tokyo Games is that India's chances of winning an elusive Olympic medal in archery will improve. "There will be competition and we will make a strong team for the Olympics and hopefully the women's team will also qualify," he says.

By: PTI | Kolkata | Updated: April 4, 2020 5:35:43 pm
Tarundeep Rai, along with India number one Atanu Das and Pravin Jadhav, had clinched a quota place for the Indian men’s team for the 2020 Olympics. (Twitter/TarundeepRai)

Amid the nationwide lockdown, veteran Indian archer Tarundeep Rai is busy building shoulder muscles at the Army Sports Institute in Pune, which he believes will keep him in shape for Tokyo Olympics now postponed to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The postponement of the Tokyo Games was a bitter pill to swallow for the two-time World Championship silver medallist as he will get one year older when he takes the field for his third Olympics.

“For me, the postponement of Olympics means I will get older by one year, so it will be a new challenge,” the 36-year-old told PTI from Pune on Saturday.

He has been forced to change his training due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic and the 21-day nationwide lockdown. His daily routine now is to search YouTube for videos on “how to build shoulder muscles” and train at the gym for long hours.

“It’s a big risk to go to the trainers, so YouTube is the constant company now. I follow some channels and pick some videos,” Rai, who competed in 2004 Athens Olympics and 2012 London Games, said.

“Now I’m not shooting that much. It’s more of dry shooting practice so that the body is tuned to bow and arrows,” the 2010 Asian Games individual silver medallist said.

Rai, along with India number one Atanu Das and his Army colleague Pravin Jadhav, had clinched quota place for the men’s team while winning a silver at the World Championships at Den Bosch in the Netherlands last year.

The trio was placed in the top-three in the trials to pick the Indian squad for Tokyo Games when the COVID-19 pandemic brought to a halt to all the sporting activities.

“No doubt I’ve a bit ahead in terms of experience, but the real challenge will be to stay fit and compete with the rising young talents. In this one year, many 20 to 22-year-olds will come up and compete for a place in the team. I think by building shoulder muscles, I will be able to withstand the challenges ahead,” he said.

Rai hopes the current situation will normalise in about three months and when the season resumes, he will again pick up his bow and arrows.

“I estimate an off-season of minimum six months due to the extraordinary circumstances. So, I will work hard at the gym for three months and then recovery will follow. It would help me personally. I’ve made my schedule that way.”

He said one positive aspect of the postponement of Tokyo Games is that India’s chances of winning an elusive Olympic medal in archery will improve.

“But there’s a positive side to it (postponement). There will be competition and we will make a strong team for the Olympics and hopefully the women’s team will also qualify, giving us good hope for a medal next year,” he said.

The Sikkim archer could not go to his native place due to the sudden call for a nationwide lockdown. He has not seen his family since August last year.

“I could not return to my home due to the sudden lockdown. I’ve not seen my family since August last year. But I have no regrets. I talk to my family and my eight-year-old son Nusam Singh Rai everyday. It’s about staying safe wherever you’re,” he concluded.

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