New Delhi: Fully aware that a small lapse in concentration can cost one a medal in any target sport, the Archery Association of India now plans to include yoga sessions in training to build archers' mental strength and give them the best-possible podium chance in Rio Olympics.
It is not the first time Indian archers will get to work on the mental aspect of the game as in April earlier this year some top archers underwent a 15-day government sponsored stint with US-based tennis player-turned-mental trainer Lorenzo Beltrame, who worked with some elite tennis stars including Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario, Jennifer Capriati, Monica Seles and Leander Paes.
"Archery is all about mental toughness. It is a sport where a calm and composed mind is necessary to success. So keeping that in mind we are discussing with Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Sports Ministry to have yoga classes for the archers," AAI president Vijay Kumar Malhotra told PTI on the sidelines a felicitation function here organised for Indian archers, who bagged two silver medals in the just-concluded World Archery Championships in Copenhagen.
AAI treasurer Virender Sachdeva said that the federation is leaving no stone unturned to give archers the best-possible preparation ahead of next year's Rio Olympics. "We have seen in the past how our archers falter under pressure situations. In the World Championships also the women's recurve team (of Deepika Kumari, Laxmirani Majhi and Rimil Buriuly) squandered a two-set lead to lose the final and settle for the sliver medal," Sachdeva said.
"In Copenhagen we have also five to six matches in shoot-out. It's all in the mind and so, we want to give our archers all assistance to become mentally stronger ahead of the Olympics. Earlier, in April this year the archers worked with renowned mental trainer Lorenzo for 15 days. He is in constant touch with us and is expected to come to India again soon to conduct another short camp," he added.
Meanwhile, Deepika, who won a silver medal in the recurve team event in Copenhagen besides securing a quota place in the individual as well as team category for the Rio Olympics, feels that with time she has now become a 'matured' and 'experienced' archer. "In the last Olympics I was not that experienced. I couldn't enjoy my game because I lost the first match. But now I have become more matured and have gathered valuable experience. I have improved a lot," Deepika said.
"Archery is a mental game and now I feel I become mentally a bit stronger," she added. For Deepika the silver medal at the World Championships hold great significance but she is not yet ready to predict anything about the Rio Games. "This medal was very important because there was tremendous pressure on us," she said.
"Every time I step on the range, there is plenty of expectation from countrymen. I too have lot of expectations from myself because I have put in a lot of hard work. "Having said that I don't think it would right to comment on Rio as there is still a year to go. I don't know about the future but what I know is that I will be fully prepared and give my best," Deepika said.
The Indian women's recurve team comprising Deepika, Laxmirani Majhi and Rimil Buriuly have secured a quota place in individual as well as team events. Another Indian archer Mangal Singh Champia have also qualified for the men's individual recurve event by obtaining one of the eight Olympic berths available in the same tournament. It is also the first time in the history of the game, Indian archers have won two medals in the World Archery Championship.
Besides the trio of Deepika, Laxmirani and Rimil, compound archer Rajat Chauhan have also won a historic silver medal in the individual category in Copenhagen. "Asian Games gold (in the compound team event) has a different value but I will consider the silver in the World Championship as my best achievement because compound archery is not in Olympics. So, it's a big medal for me," Rajat said.
Compound archery is still not part of the Olympic program but there are talks that the discipline might be get included in 2024 Olympics. Asked Rajat about compound archery's inclusion in the Olympic program, he said: "We have heard that by 2024 compound will be included in Olympics. So from my end I will give my best effort to keep my performance up till 2024 so that I can compete in Olympics."