Lack of mental toughness among Indian archers

Lack of mental toughness among Indian archers

Lack Of Mental Toughness Among Indian Archers. Indian archers have been shining on the world stage like never before -- but they have failed to achieve their true potential due to lack..

Kolkata: Indian archers have been shining on the world stage like never before -- but they have failed to achieve their true potential due to lack of mental toughness, contends the chief of the country's apex archery body.

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 where they bagged four medals, including a gold from Abhishek Verma in the compound men's individual section.

But despite an impressive show, the archers somehow keep losing out on the gold, prompting the nation's apex archery body to observe that the players still lack the mental toughness to prevail in one-on-one situations in the eliminations rounds.

"I feel that our archers are not mentally tough enough to handle the pressure of one-to-one elimination rounds in spite of long experience and higher world ranking. To convert silver to gold medal, archers will have to be mentally prepared by learning from their past and should have a high confidence level," Archery Association of India (AAI) president Vijay Kumar Malhotra told IANS in an interview.

"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 the past more than 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 had arranged a mental toughness programme with the support of the sports ministry as well as coaches under the guidance of Lourenzo of USA."

However, the AAI president denied having a word in this regard with yoga guru Baba Ramdev.

Malhotra also emphasised on four problems faced by the Indian archers. "They suffer from malnutrition and meagre facilities. We could not provide good facilities and direction to the athlete in rural areas."

"A major problem for less glamorous sport like Archery is the lack of sponsors. Big business and corporate houses should come forward and sponsor the game of Archery so that India can become a sporting power in the near future.

"Also there is the costly equipment. Archery is an expensive sport and buying sophisticated equipment has always been a great challenge for fund-starved tribal and poor archers," he added.

"Non-availability of modern equipment in open market is the biggest drawback to pursuing the game of archery."

The AAI chief also said that the association was making extra efforts to provide proper training to the archers.

"The Archery Association of India is taking special efforts in providing infrastructure and proper training to the sportspersons.

"A number of new archery academies, centres, clubs sponsored/granted by state governments and other private organisations are being established throughout the country for the past few years," Malhotra said.

"Lack of infrastructure and equipment is an issue but cannot be an excuse for under-performance," he pointed out.

Questioned on what he thinks is lacking in a country like India, Malhotra said: "There is no dearth of talent in sports and the need of the hour is to identify and groom the talent by providing all necessary infrastructure and scientific support."

Malhotra said the primary focus now was to seal the two remaining berths for the 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro and contribute one or two medals to the Indian tally.

"Our women's recurve team has qualified for the Rio Olympics based on their silver medal-winning performance at the World Archery Championship in Copenhagen recently. India also secured a berth in the men's category.

"Our focused target and special stress is to get the remaining two berths of men's team to attain the ultimate aim to win medals in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games for which we have planned various programmes including NRATs to achieve our objective of winning medals there," the AAI chief said.

"India will certainly improve its medal tally in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. I am confident that our archers will contribute one or two medals to the tally.

"Our archers' preparations is on in full swing. All archers are working hard at their training centres under the supervision of their coaches," he said.

Malhotra also revealed a list of must-dos that the Indians should focus on before the Rio Games.

"We should try to arrange a top quality mental toughness programme two or three times in a year. Secondly, yoga classes are needed to enhance their confidence and concentration levels. We may also arrange a month-long acclimatisation camp at Rio prior to the Olympics. We also need to deploy competent foreign coaches," he said.
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