By Navneet Singh
New Delhi, Jun 23 (IANS): Former international archer Dola Banerjee said on Wednesday that the Indian women's recurve team failed to grab an Olympic team quota place last Sunday in Paris as they wilted under pressure.
"The obvious reason for below par performance in the last Olympic qualification tournament was pressure to win the Olympics quota place," Dola told IANS from Kolkata.
In the Olympic qualification tournament, the focus was on Deepika Kumari as she was the most experienced player in the team, but she was error prone and that proved costly for Indian team, she said.
"The national team lost their opening match to Colombia 0-6 and crashed out of the competition. Deepika was off target and shot her first arrow to earn five points and that put more pressure on the other two archers -- Komalika Bari and Ankita Bhakat -- to win team quota place," said Dola.
Pre-tournament favourites India were ranked second in the seedings, behind Mexico, but couldn't deliver the goods at the right time, she said. That meant that something must have gone seriously wrong as India lost to a lowly team like Colombia, who weren't in the race for the quota places.
"In April, the Indian recurve women's team won the gold medal in World Cup Stage-I in Guatemala, but in June at the Paris Olympic qualification tournament looked off-colour," she added.
Of the 24 countries in fray, the top three nations were allotted recurve women's team quota places. Mexico, the USA, and Italy won gold, silver, and bronze respectively in Paris and qualified for the Olympics.
Dola said that if Deepika, Ankita and Komalika had repeated their Guatemala World Cup performance in Paris, the national team could have won the Olympics team quota place.
"We can't blame the coaching system. We can't say archers aren't getting good facilities. But players should themselves be blamed for missing the target. Deepika, the most experienced archer, failed to inspire others," said Dola.
Starting the 2004 Athens Olympics, the Indian recurve women's team had qualified for three successive Games, but will miss the Tokyo Olympic Games, to be staged from July 23-August 8.