All eyes will be on the newly-wed archery couple of Atanu Das and Deepika Kumari as India will look to make up for lost time caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the World Cup Stage 1 which begins here on Tuesday.
It has been more than 18 months since the last circuit trophies were awarded at the World Cup Final in Moscow. The World Cup Stage 1 will be the first global event since the pandemic forced the cancellation of the international calendar in 2020.
For the Indians, the wait was longer as they last took part in a World Cup back in the stage 4 circuit in Berlin in July 2019. Thus, they would look to shake off the rustiness and get back to rhythm.
In the absence of Asian heavyweights Korea, China, Chinese Taipei and Turkey, the Indian archers led by Atanu and Deepika would look to a strong performance in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics.
Without the big Asian teams, it will be a battle of supremacy between the American and European nations, while the Indians would also hope to make a mark, especially in the mixed and team events.
First real test
Having already secured the Olympic quota, it would be the first real test for the trio of Atanu, Pravin Jadhav and veteran Tarundeep Rai.
In the women’s section, India has got individual Olympic quota through former World No. 1 Deepika who, along with Ankita Bhakat and Komalika Bari, would look to the much-needed exposure ahead of the final qualification in Paris.
Realistically, it’s the women’s team and the mixed pair team which can win medals in the absence of the fancied compound team which was withdrawn. The national federation pulled out the compound team of Abhishek Verma and Jyothi Surekha just before its departure after coach Gaurav Sharma tested positive.
The coach was isolated at the SAI Sonepat camp while the team left for Delhi airport, but the federation disallowed its entry to “ensure safety” of the recurve archers.
The next day, it came to light that the coach had a “false positive” report in his second test, but by then the damage had already been done. Around 150 archers from across the globe will vie for top honours in the World Cup first stage.