Kolkata, June 13: It was not by fluke but by meticulous planning and clinical execution that the men's recurve archery team overcame all odds to make the World Championship final for only the second time since 2005.
Despite being woefully short on exposure, including missing out the season-opening World Cup Stage I in Medellin in April, the Indian men's recurve team, who last won a silver in a World Cup in 2014, also grabbed the Olympic quota places. So, how did they overcame all these issues and hit the bull's eye?
"We came to the Netherlands 11 days before. We practised at Breda and it helped us acclimatise to the conditions. We are thankful to the Archery Association of India (for organising this)," Atanu Das, one of the three members, told PTI from Den Bosch.
As it turned out, India ousted favourites and home team Netherlands who got second place in the ranking round behind the mighty Koreans. The AAI organised the 11-day camp for the recurve archers at Breda, just 38 kilometres from the venue to acclimatise to the weather conditions.
"We got used to the weather and could gauge the wind direction perfectly and shot accordingly. We became very familiar with the conditions. We just enjoyed and gave our best," he added as India bettered the Dutch 29-28 in the shoot-off for an overall score of 5-4.
It was a big achievement for the Indian men's recurve team which had slumped to number 17 in rankings from being number one in May 2011. Moreover, the archers had to face the hardships for no fault of theirs as factional feud erupted in the AAI. The Supreme Court set aside the constitution of the AAI headed by BVP Rao, leading to rival groups electing two parallel bodies in a bizarre situation.
Tickets and visa formalities for the reserve team were done in advance for the Stage II World Cup in May as the first team, who had missed to compete in Stage I, were robbed of another international exposure. Their first international exposure was at the Stage III World Cup in Antalya from May 20-26, less than a month ahead of the World Championships. It was during that time, the Rao-led group convinced sports ministry who readily approved of the budget for the acclimatisation trip as the recurve men's and women's teams were flown straight to the Netherlands instead of returning home.
"In my opinion, getting familiar to the wind and weather conditions was very important. I saw a fortnight gap after the event in Turkey. So we met the sports secrtary Radheshyam Julania who approved the trip," Rao told PTI, thanking the sports ministry.
Rao also thanked the World Archery secretary general Tom Dielen and the Dutch Archery Federation (Handboogsport Nederlands) which arranged the local ground in Breda, not very far from the competition venue.