Is this award the biggest of your career?
Yes. It shows that archery is getting popular in this country, and my efforts in this direction have been recognised by everyone. But my job is only half done. I have a dream that one of my pupils will win an Olympic gold in archery. Till that happens, I can’t be at peace.
Were you disturbed when Deepika Kumari, who you have nurtured, failed to do well in the 2012 London Games?
You can’t really blame Deepika for failing in London. She was not even 17 then and probably it was pressure more than anything else that affected her performance. But the way she, along with her teammates, are performing right now, they just need to maintain their good form.
The chances of winning a medal will be brighter in the coming Asian and Olympic Games.
Deepika is doing well in team events. But her individual performance is still not the best in the world?
The good thing is that Deepika has age by her side. She will be participating in the World Championships later this month and I’m hoping that she will be able to give her best there.
Her individual performances have certainly been not that consistent but in archery the scoring pattern is such that individuals only play set matches. And if you lose one set initially, it becomes difficult to make a comeback. But you have to give it to her that she has been able in the top eight of the world rankings consistently for the last few years.
Have you been working on her weaknesses?
To my mind, one’s performances can be as good as the competition around. What was happening earlier was that Deepika was the lone archer here who was hitting good scores at international competitions. She was hardly getting any competition from within her team.
But now, things have changed. If Deepika is hitting 10, then L Bombayla Devi and Rimil Birulyher teammates are also hitting 10 or 9 in regular practice. This has made the competition hard for everyone and I hope this would help them all to maintain their high scores at international events.
Wouldn’t that make it tough for Deepika to maintain her top ranking at home?
I look at it differently. In Korea, there are about 15 to 20 top archers in men or women’s section who can beat anyone on their day.
That kind of healthy competition is necessary in order to maintain your supremacy at the top level. If Deepika knows that she can be beaten by her teammates in domestic or international events, she will have to work hard to maintain her top form.
And it’s not just Bombayla or Rimil, there are about three or four others in the junior section who are posing tough competition to them. This is a healthy sign for Indian archery.
Has the appointment of a Korean coach contributed to the good performance?
Korean coach Lim Chae Woong was always there in Tata Archery Academy and he helped all our students, even though he was not coaching the Indian team.
Deepika is going to be 18 soon. How soon can we see her on top of the rankings again?
She will have to play all the top tournaments and be consistent there. That’s the only way to go back to the top in archery. I’m hoping that she does well at the World Championships later this month.