Olympic-bound Kolkata-based archer Rahul Banerjee’s inevitable focus is to hit bullseye at the London Games, but given the archery event is being held at the historic Lord’s Cricket Ground, cricket-lover Banerjee is doubly excited.
For Banerjee, stepping onto the hallowed turf at Lord’s is a matter of immense pride. “As an avid cricket fan, it’s impossible for me to forget the historic moment when India captain Sourav Ganguly took off his shirt and waved it from the Lord’s balcony to celebrate the team’s NatWest Trophy triumph in 2002. I’m excited at the prospect of competing in the Olympics at the same venue,” Banerjee told MiD DAY from Kolkata yesterday.
However, it’s not the first time that the 2010 Commonwealth Games individual recurve gold medalist will be competing at Lord’s. “The 2007 Olympic trials were also held here, and unfortunately we did not qualify for Beijing 2008. But I hope we are able to return with a medal this time,” added Banerjee.
In fact, the younger brother of former world champion Dola, is expecting not one but two medals from the Indian archery team at the London Games.
“While the men’s team has won silver medal at the last two World Cups (2010 and 2011) and so will be in contention for a medal in London too, among the women, 18-year-old current world number one Deepika Kumari is also a bright medal prospect,” said the Arjuna award-winner, who expects tough competition from South Korea, USA and the French at the Games.
Banerjee, who is currently ranked fourth in the recurve team event, and 23 in the individual recurve world rankings however felt the unpredictable weather conditions in London will be a key factor too.
“Given London’s unpredictable weather, I’m not sure about the wind and other factors at Lord’s, but I’m sure we can handle it. We need to consistently score 200-225 in the initial rounds of the team event to be in medal contention. At the Olympics, each match will be like a final and we aim to give it our best,” said Banerjee, who is training with teammates Jayanta Talukdar and Tarundeep Rai for the men’s recurve team event.
The 26-year-old was in the news recently when his equipment was lost in transit while traveling for the Olympic qualification tournament in Ogden, USA. He qualified for the Games with borrowed equipment. The experience however has left the Olympic Gold Quest supported-athlete wiser.
“The experience in Ogden were harrowing. I lost my case in transit and got it back just two days before the event. I qualified with a borrowed bow and arrow. For London though, we have decided to keep our spare equipment in another team member’s case. In this way, if one item is misplaced, we can shoot with the other,” he signed off.