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Archery official blames foreign experts

August 26, 2004 15:45 IST

Expressing dismay over the below-par performance of the country's archers at the Athens Olympics, a top Archery Association of India official on Thursday blamed the foreign coaches for spoiling the natural ability of the players.

"I must say that these two coaches are responsible for our disaster, particularly in the team event where we had hoped to do much better," Archery Association of India vice president Pareshnath Mukherjee told PTI.

Mukherjee, who was the non-playing captain of the six-member squad during the Games, said the Indians had put up a far better performance in the world championship last year before the arrival of the foreign coaches - Bulgarian Ivan Yotov and Korean Chae Hong Gi.

The Indian men had finished fourth, while the women came sixth in the meet.

But in Athens, the Indian women's team went down in the quarter-final to France, while the men fell flat at the first hurdle. The six-member contingent returned home last night.

Mukherjee said the two coaches, who came to India earlier this year, tried to impose their own ideas on the archers, which the latter could not grasp.

"Tarundeep Rai was the worst sufferer. His natural ability and talent was lost," he said.

"This foreign management spoiled the two years of hard work that we had put in ahead of the Games. But at the same time, I also own up to my mistakes. I'm also equally responsible. I should have interfered in time and not left everything to them," said Mukherjee, who was also the overall in-charge of the team's Olympic preparations.

Taking note of consistent poor showing of the Indian archers in Olympic rounds despite good scores in the ranking rounds, AAI had switched the focus of preparations from holding marathon-coaching camps to arranging frequent match competitions.

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The Indian probables had to prove their mettle in 12 circuits meets as also other international competitions.

"But somewhere we went wrong. We have to sit down and do some introspection. I don't want to give any excuse," said Mukherjee, who had exuded confidence about doing well in the Olympics team events before the Games.

However, Mukherjee showered praise on the seasoned Satyadev Prasad, who came very close to upsetting top-seeded Korean archer Im Dong Hyun in the pre-quarters of the individual event.

"He played superbly. It was bad luck, that he could not land the last arrow properly," he said.

Prasad lost out by only two points as he became a bundle of nerves and was seen literally shivering before the last shot. However, Mukherjee maintained that the 'luck factor' proved crucial for Prasad.

To a query as to whether the extensive efforts to make the Indians mentally strong to face high-quality opponents in knock-out matches have been fruitless, Mukherjee said "Yes, ultimately, we could not deliver. At such levels, only the mentally strong ones win."

On the shocking performance of the country's top ranked woman archer Dola Banerjee, who made her exit in the opening round of the individual meet, Mukherjee said that Banerjee herself was responsible for her predicament.

"Time and again she was advised to shoot the arrows fast. But she never listened and took a lot of time in releasing arrows after picking up her bow. The conditions in Athens were very windy. Naturally, her arrows went wayward," he added.


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