Kolkata: Indian archers have been shining on the world stage like never before, but have failed to achieve their true potential due to lack of mental toughness, says Vijay Kumar Malhotra, president of the Archery Association of India (AAI), the country's apex archery body.
AAI president VK Malhotra
Rajat's silver show
Indian archers produced some good performances at the World Archery Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark earlier this month, where Rajat Chauhan opened the account with a silver in the men's compound category before the women's recurve team took another second-place finish to register India's best show so far in the tournament.
India also did well at the Archery World Cup in Wroclaw, Poland bagging four medals, including a gold from Abhishek Verma in the compound men's individual section.
But somehow they keep losing out on the gold often. "Our archers are not mentally tough to handle the pressure of one-to-one elimination rounds despite the experience and a higher world ranking. To convert the silver medal to gold, archers must be mentally prepared by learning from their past and must have a high confidence level," Malhotra said yesterday.
India's top-ranked women archery Deepika Kumari
"Archery is a mind game that needs a bit of luck. It is all about how strong you are mentally. In major competitions, being tough makes a big difference," observed Malhotra, who has been at the helm of archery affairs in the country for over four decades.
"They (Indian archers) need the best psychologist and a yoga instructor to enhance their confidence, concentration level as well as mental toughness," he said.
Asked what the association was doing so that these archers do not break down mentally in the finals, Malhotra said: "With a view to overcoming this hurdle, AAI arranged a mental toughness programme with the support of the sports ministry as well as coaches under the guidance of Lourenzo of USA."
Malhotra also enlisted other problems faced by the Indian archers. "They suffer from malnutrition and meagre facilities, but the biggest problem a less glamorous sport like archery faces, is a lack of sponsors. Corporate houses should come forward and sponsor archery, so that India can become a powerhouse in the sport," he added.