Don’t need a foreign coach, feels archer Deepika Kumari

Kolkata: Managing to win a bronze at the recently-concluded Archery World Cup Finals without a coach, star Indian recurve archer Deepika Kumari feels there is no need to rope in a foreign coach ahead of the World Championships as it could further complicate their preparations.

The Archery Association of India (AAI) — acting on directions of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) — had failed to provide a coach to archers Abhishek Verma, Jyothi Surekha and Deepika for the World Cup final last month after Jiwanjot Singh Teja resigned over a Dronacharya Award snub.

The cavalier attitude of AAI was seen as a heavy discouragement for the archers who qualified for the marquee event after a gruelling battle at the four World Cup stages earlier this year.

“I cannot comment on that (no coach given at the World Cup final). We need a national coach but right now in India we do not have too many of them. And the good coaches are busy preparing upccoming players,” Deepika told reporters on the sidelines of the first invitational Indian Open Indoor Archery tournament that concluded at the Netaji Indoor Stadium here on Sunday.

Asked if roping in a foreign coach would solve the problem, Deepika said, “If we rope in a foreign coach now and he or she will teach us new things, it won’t help.”

“We have already worked on a certain technique and now suddenly you will change it, it will take 3-4 years more. We would want to polish our form and work on the mental aspect as well.”

The Indian recurve contingent returned empty-handed from this year’s Asian Games while the compound team — both men’s and women’s — bagged silver.

The recurve archers have been on a downward spiral for quite some time now, not winning anything at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2014 Incheon Asian Games too.

During the last two years, the AAI tried out more than a dozen archers for the men’s team, with 26-year-old Atanu Das being the constant member.

The compound archers, meanwhile, underwent a 10-day training camp under Italian star archer Sergio Pagni before the the 2018 Jakarta Asiad where the likes of Abhishek Verma, Rajat Chauhan and Aman Saini won silver in the men’s category while Muskan Kirar, Madhumita Kumari and Jyothi Surekha pocketed silver in the women’s section.

The World Archery Championships will be held in June next year and Deepika said it will be the most important competition for them as Olympic quotas will be up for grabs.

“We have very little time to prepare for World Championship. If we feel the requirement to play a tournament in between, we will play the World Cup.”

“But 2019 will be a very important year for us. We have not been doing well as a team for the last two years. I hope the trials are conducted well and the team is stronger than before so that we can return (from the 2019 World Championship) with a quota. That is very important,” said Deepika.

The de-recognised AAI is slated to have its elections in December and only after that can the national calendar be planned.

“The calendar is not out yet as elections are still pending. We can tell only after that,” Deepika signed off.