Saturday, October 31, 2015

Archers deserve media attention: World Cup silver medallist Abhishek Verma




He is humble to the core and only wants to brag about his archery skills through power-packed performances on the world stage. Abhishek Verma does not give you the impression that he is experiencing any ‘top of the world’ feeling after becoming the first Indian men compound archery to not just reach the Archery World Cup Final but win a silver medal in the marquee event that recently concluded in Mexico City. The 26-year-old Delhi boy, who has been coached by Lokesh Chand Pal throughout his archery career, is now gearing up for the Asian Archery Championship kicking off in Bangkok in the first week of November. The Income Tax department employee spoke about archery and much more in an exclusive interview.

Excerpts:


Q You became the first Indian men compound archer to not just reach the Archery World Cup Final but also manage a podium finish, bagging a silver medal.


Winning a medal in any event gives you a huge amount of satisfaction and the Archery World Cup Final in Mexico was no different for me. For me winning a senior national crown is as important as winning a medal in a World Cup. I cherish every medal I win be it at the national level or international level.

Q It takes a lot of effort to first of all reach the Archery World Cup Final, where only the cream of the world archers qualifies from the four stages of World Cup events.


Look, there are four stages of Archery World Cups held every year. I did not get any medals in the World Cup Stage 1 and World Stage 2 held in Shanghai (China) and Antalya (Turkey). I won a gold medal in the World Stage 3 held in Wroclaw (Poland) and did not play in the World Stage 4 held in Medellin (Colombia). My points are decided on the basis of the three World Cups I played as I missed the fourth one and accordingly I was ranked fifth and won the right to play the Archery World Cup Final in Mexico – I was among the seven who qualified for the Archery World Cup Final besides one from the host nation. Reaching the Archery World Cup Final is far from being a piece of cake and I’m happy with my effort.


Q You lost to Turkey’s Demir Elmaagacli in the final – how you assess your final match?


The final match against the Turkish opponent was hard-fought with no quarter given no quarter asked for. It could have gone either way but I gave my best shot and wasn’t too disappointed with my effort as I lost 143-145. There was a strong breeze at the venue, which did affect my game but this is not an excuse to say why I lost.


Q Tell us a bit about your semifinal match against Mario Cardoso of host nation Mexico, who was having a giant-killing run having upset the top seed Mike Schloesser in the quarterfinals.



Well, it wasn’t easy playing Mario Cardoso as he had ten thousand Mexicans rooting for him at the venue. I was in superb form that day as I shot a perfect 150 and was not at all perturbed by the cheers of home supporters in their own language.


Q You had bagged a silver medal in the individual compound event and a gold medal in the team compound event at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. You lost to Iran’s Esmaeil Ebadi in the individual compound event at the Asiad but beat him to win the gold in the in the World Stage 3 held in Wroclaw.


Look, when I lose I try to learn from my mistakes and work on them for future tournaments. Winning two medals in the Asiad was memorable for me and beating Ebadi in Wroclaw was a moment to rejoice. I don’t see it as exacting revenge just because I lost to him at the Asiad. Winning and losing are part and parcel of a sportsperson’s life.


Q You starting training for archery in 2004 under coach Lokesh Chand Pal – your one and only coach so far. What are key attributes of you coach you admire the most?


He is a fabulous coach. I have been working under him since the age of 14 till date. He is one who will ensure you are not down in the mouth when I lose. Similarly, he never allows to get too excited with a win, basically ensures my feet is firmly planted on the ground.

Q Just going into the Archery World Cup Final in Mexico, you had won your third consecutive senior national crown in individual compound event held in Meerut.


I had a great run in the 36th Senior National Archery Championship. I also have fond memories of creating national record of logging 709 out of maximum 720 points in the 2014 Senior National Archery Championship in Delhi and also winning the crown in the 2013 edition in Jamshedpur.

Q There was a time when talented archers used to be confined to a few pockets – do you think that trend is changing now?


Archery is fast spreading across the country. Talented youngsters are coming up from all parts of the country, which is good for the sport. All Indian archery needs is more media support and our guys are consistently performing but the coverage of the sport leaves a lot to be desired.

Q The Archery Association of India (AAI) was derecognized by the Sports Ministry in 2012 violating the age and tenure guidelines of the sports code. Has it affected our archers?


Not really! The SAI has taken all care to ensure the training and preparations of archery for national international competitions are not hurt.

Q The Asian Archery Championship is happening in Bangkok in November – you must be really pumped up for this event given the highs you have scaled in recent past.


I’m keen to do well – at the 2013 Asian Archery Championship I had won three gold medals – in team compound, individual compound and mixed compound events.


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