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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Despite 86-hour travel, missed World Cup, hard quarantines, Atanu Das focussed on bulls-eye

·4 min read

In Atanu Das' mind, the glass is always half full. The perpetually grinning men's recurve archer has a tendency to look the grimmest situations in the eye and find a silver lining. Or, call it an archer's blinkered approach to only look at the target and mute out the noise.

So, it's not surprising that he found a positive takeaway even after spending 86 hours to return home from Guatemala City where India's recurve archers won four medals at the World Cup Stage I last month.

The tedious journey took the archery contingent from Guatemala City to Panama to a 23-hour layover in Paris to Bengaluru to Mumbai before they finally reached Pune, where they are based at the Army Sports Institute.

"The journey was horrible. It was a long journey that left us fatigued. Our halt in Paris itself was 23 hours. But considering we were returning after winning medals the 86-hour travel did not feel that bad. Our only concern was reaching safely," Atanu told Firstpost earlier this week.

While Atanu won men's individual gold at Guatemala City, he also claimed a bronze in the mixed team event with Ankita Bhakat. For Atanu, it was the first-ever individual medal at the World Cup. His spouse Deepika Kumari also returned with golds in the women's individual and women's team events.

On being asked if the medal haul will boost their confidence going into Tokyo Olympics, Atanu said: "Psychologically, I'm not going to hype it up. It's very normal. The competitors are the same, be it the World Cup or the Olympics. Our work is also the same. My work is shooting arrows and hitting the bulls-eye."

He admitted that the Indian contingent was excited to be competing after a long period at home due to the coronavirus-imposed break in the archery calendar. "We were waiting for a long time to compete. After over a year, we got the chance to compete at an event. So, there was a lot of excitement."

The Indian archery contingent's preparations for the Archery World Cup Stage III in Paris and the Tokyo Olympics were affected when the Switzerland embassy allegedly rejected short-term visas for the Indian archery contingent. The archers will now compete at the last stage of the World Cup in Paris and then at Tokyo 2020 in July, both of which could require quarantines (the archery contingent has plans to reach Japan before their event, so will be asked to quarantine).

"We'd thought that we will try and correct our errors from Guatemala in Switzerland. But it wasn't to be. There's not a lot we can do in this situation. That's why we don't engage our mind in thinking about that World Cup," he said before adding, "We don't think about things like quarantines. Given the COVID situation, things like quarantines are going to be there. It's a fact which we have to accept. I don't think it'll make a big difference. At least we're getting to compete. There are so many sports that are still not up and running," he said.

Atanu, who was also part of the Rio Olympics contingent along with Deepika Kumari, feels that the archers are much better prepared going into Tokyo 2020 than they were five years ago. At the archery range in Pune's ASI, the archers keep trying newer things in training to prepare for any challenge that Tokyo 2020 could throw up. This includes training at night, training in the rains, and even setting up an elevated platform to shoot from.

"Earlier we never used to try these training methods. But now we're getting a lot more facilities since the Rio Olympics in 2016. At Rio 2016, we were given a lot of facilities, but at the last minute. I had said then also that if we get facilities throughout the Olympics cycle, then it'll be a lot more beneficial. The result will be different."

Also See: World Cup Archery Stage 1: Women's recurve team beats Mexico to win gold; Atanu Das-Ankita Bhakat win mixed bronze

Tokyo Olympics 2020 Latest Updates: As 'Games like no other' appear on horizon, a daily look at noteworthy developments

Tokyo Olympics 2020: More tests for athletes, but questions about the Games remain

Read more on Sports by Firstpost.