A group of low-key Compound archers give India their best day at the Asian Games
This may possibly be the most poignant Indian story from the Incheon Asian Games. A school drop out, an Army man, who chose archery over shooting and a part-time college coach whose main job is that of a Tax Assistant combined to bring India its first-ever gold medal in a sport often associated with Indian mythology.
Abhishek Verma (left), Sandeep Kumar and Rajat Chauhan (right) celebrate their gold-medal winning performance in Incheon. Pic/PTI
A little later a woman archer, who has been looking for a job for three years, found two bronze medals, one each in team and individual, the second of which was a virtual gift. The gold from Compound archery, which has been included in Asian Games for the first time, was only the second for the Indians in Incheon, though a litter later, the men's squash team led by Saurav Ghosal added a third gold medal.
Abhishek Verma spearhead the team gold and later added an individual silver, while Trisha Deb played a key role as the women's team won a bronze, and later she won another individual bronze.
India down Korea
The Compound men's archery team comprising Delhi-based Verma, Sandeep Kumar and Rajat Chauhan edged out the Korean team, which was egged on a boisterous and near-partisan crowd at the Gyeyang Asiad Archery Field.
The home team included the World Champion, Choi Yong-hee, who incidentally lost in the quarter-finals of the individual event to Verma, besides Min Li-Hong and Yang Young-ho. While the margin was extremely narrow 227-225 in India's favour, at no point did the Indians trail in the final.
Verma, a triple gold winner in Compound events from 2013 Asian Archery, missed a second gold losing the final 141-145 to Iran's Esmael Ebadi. A candid Verma remarked, "Now maybe people will notice us. An Asian Games gold has a higher visibility than the medal we won at the World Championships."
Verma, a Tax Assistant in the Income Tax department said. He also combines his job with coaching the Hans Raj college archery team in Delhi. "The archers I train will be happy and be motivated with this," he said. "It would have been nice to win both gold, but still I am very happy." In the women's section, Trisha, Purvasha Sudhir Shende and Surekha Jyothi took the bronze, beating Iran 224-217 in the play-off.
'Gift' for Trisha
Later in the individual section, Trisha was virtually gifted a bronze medal by Taipei's Jou Huang, who was leading 130-125 with two more arrows to go. Shockingly, the Taipei girl completely missed the target and recorded a blank. That stunned Trisha, who had just shot a seven with her first arrow in the last set of three.
India's bronze medal-winning women's Compound archery team of Trisha Deb (L), Surekha Jyoti, and Purvasha Sudhir Shende. Pic/PTI
Trisha, covering her face in shock at her opponent's miss, composed herself to shoot two nines with the last two arrows while Huang managed a nine in last to leave the Indian a winner 138-134. "Haara hua match wapis aa gaya (A lost match came back to me)," confessed Trisha, who hopes this medal, also the team bronze, will help her get a job.
Four years ago, the still jobless Trisha, left Kolkata, where her father still works as an assistant in a doctor's clinic and a mother, who takes tuitions, to seek greener pastures and a willing coach, Jiwanjot Teja in Patiala University. "I am grateful to my coach, who asked me to take up Compound after I lost my form in Recurve," said Trisha. "This is the happiest day of my life, but I am still looking for a job." Maybe this can change her life.
The Jaipur-bred Rajat, who confessed to having failed his school-leaving, quipped, "I have failed in school, but this was my biggest examination. I passed that well. I enjoy archery and I have worked hard. Our team has put in lot of effort and we have been training for a long period."
The women's team gold went to the Koreans, comprising Choi Bomin, who later won the women's individual gold, Kim Yunhee and Seok Jihyun who beat Chinese Taipei 229-226. The Indian girls had earlier lost the semis 224-226 to Chinese Taipei. It was a welcome boost for archery, which was dropped from the Glasgow Commonwealth games this year, and has been excluded from the 2016 Rio Olympics.