Copenhagen: The Indian recurve men's team comprising Rahul Banerjee, Jayanta Talukdar and Mangal Champia say their aim is to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics through the ongoing World Archery Championships here.
“Any of us on the team is always proud to represent India around the world but to be here, it means something different. We are not only looking for world medals or titles but to qualify for Rio 2016, which is the biggest goal,” Champia was quoted as saying by worldarchery.org.
Talukdar added: “It's just great! We had a hard preparation ahead of these worlds, so we will do anything we can to make sure that pays off.”
The trio have known each other for nearly two decades now but started shooting together as a team only in 2007. In that very year, the team clinched the Asian Championships gold in Xi'an, China. Since then, they have been consistent with their results, delivered through different World Cup stages, Asian Games and other championships.
Banerjee and Talukdar also qualified for the 2012 London Olympics but finished a disappointing ninth despite picking up a silver in the qualification tournament in Ogden.
“We are aware everybody wants to win a medal as much as we do. As a team, we are back in form to give our best. Our people expect that, so we'll see if things go our way,” said Banerjee.
Echoing the same sentiments, Talukdar said the sport is picking up in India and hopes with more medals, more support will come their way.
“In India it is really all about cricket but we are making archery more interesting, gathering more attention. People support us, we get their blessing and they do care about our results. They believe we can do well and qualify for the Olympics. So as far as we can make it possible and win medals, people will keep getting involved,” he said.
However, grabbing hold of a medal in the competition will be tough, especially with 233 archers competing for three medals. The three believe it will be even tougher with the weather being windy.
“United States, Chinese Taipei... I mean, so many strong teams with so many recognisable archers make things as tough as you want. Weather conditions have been very rainy and windy these few days. As we believe they will be the same for the rest of the week, it will make things even harder. The weather is a challenge for us,” said Talukdar.
Asked about how many medals they would want to take back home from here, the 29-year-old added: “We are expecting two medals. One as a team and one individual medal that can be won by any one of us. It doesn't matter who wins, we just care to perform well as a team.”