With 2020 Tokyo Olympics less than a day away, India's archery federation (AAI) is left with a difficult call to make on who will pair women's recurve archer World No. 1 Deepika Kumari for the mixed team event (considered a strong event for India's medal hopes).
The Archery Association of India were forced to make the call after Olympic debutant Pravin Jadhav outperformed India's leading men's recurve archer, and husband of Deepika, Atanu Das in the Tokyo Olympics men's individual ranking rounds.
Pravin finished the ranking rounds (72 arrow-round) with an aggregate of 656, and when his sum is combined with Deepika's 663 in the women's individual ranking round, the total of 1319 places them 9th in the ranking.
However, leading to the Olympics, Deepika and Atanu were deemed as the dream pair for the major event and were considered a strong pair for Indian archery's first medal at the Games; especially after the duo clinched gold at Paris World Cup last month against a strong field.
Atanu, however, on Friday was disappointing by his standards at the ranking round and managed an aggregate of 653. When combined with Deepika's aggregate, their total will drop the ranking to 11th spot. However, since it's a quota spot that Indian archers won, changing Deepika's partner shouldn't have any impact on the rankings, understands Indiatvnews.com.
Speaking to the website, a senior AAI official revealed that they are going to host an emergency meeting and a call will be taken on who will be the pair for the mixed event.
"We will be holding a meeting soon on whom to name as the pair. A decision will be out by 4 PM today as we don't want to hold on to the decision for long with the event just a day away. Our understanding at the moment is that the rule is to pick the top performer of the ranking round and that's why we will look into all those possibilities in the meeting," said AAI general secretary Pramod Chandurkar.
However, as per Tokyo Olympics website, Deepika is already listed with Pravin to face the Chinese Taipei pair of Chia-En Li and Chih-Chun Tang on Saturday morning. If they cross the first hurdle, they are likely to face in quarter-final the event favourites South Korea, who have been a dominant figure in the sport.
Will like to bring to the readers' attention that World Archery (the international governing body of the sport) in their competitions have allowed changing of line-ups in the mixed and team events in the past and has stipulated guidelines in place, which includes informing the body via the team's manager for a change in the line-up up to few hours before the event. However, it's unclear if the same set of rules is applicable in Olympics that is governed by International Olympic Committee.