Indian men’s archery team secured the Olympic quota for the 2020 Tokyo Games by storming into the quarterfinals of the World Championships with a 5-3 win over Canada here Wednesday.
This was for the first time after 2012 London Olympics that Indian men could secure a team quota. They had failed to qualify for Rio Games three years back and had an individual entry in Atanu Das, who had lost in the pre-quarterfinals.
“We finally made it. We are gelling well as a team and looking forward to Tokyo now. This is the moment to keep going for 2020,” two-time Olympian Rai, a member of the London Olympics, said.
“I’m sure the opponents were feeling exactly the same pressure. So the key was to keep calm and it worked well for us,” the 35-year-old Army archer said.
Up against a team who secured a bye into the last-16 after finishing sixth in the ranking round, the Indian trio started off with three perfect shots including one X to take the first set with a one-point (56-55) lead.
They held on to their momentum and scored one-point more than the first set with another perfect start in the second set where the trio hit two Xs and one 10 to edge out their opponents once again by one point (57-56) and race to a 4-0 lead.
Eric Peters, Crispin Duenas and Brian Maxwell, however, bounced back to grab the third set (58-54), hitting four perfect shots with two X to take the match to the decider.
Needing a tie, the Indians held their nerves and levelled the scores 57-all to seal the issue 5-3 and secure an Olympic berth.
Das, who was India’s lone entry in the men’s section, also sounded ecstatic.
“We started off very well. I think this the best team we ever made. We worked so hard to get this point. We did not qualify in the last Olympics. So this is going to be a turning point for Indian archery,” Das said. The eight quarterfinalists win full three-athlete quotas, while the top four individual athletes from nations not qualified in the team event collect a single berth for their respective countries.