After a poor show in the World Archery Championships in Italy earlier in July, Rahul Banerjee was dropped by the Archery Association of India from the Indian squad for World Cup Stage III and IV to be held in United States and China. The ace Indian archer was unable to qualify for the London Olympics, missing the berth by just one point.
However, the CWG gold medallist’s sombre mood was soon to change as later that month he was to be nominated for the Arjuna Award, five years after his elder sister Dola Banerjee won the award.
Speaking exclusively to Zeenews.com, Rahul said the award is very important for him as it brings motivation to excel.
“The President of India herself would present the award on a national stage that gives us exposure and lets other know who we are and what we have achieved that otherwise gets unnoticed. These kinds of awards are a motivation for us to aim higher for bigger achievements and maybe for awards like Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award,” he said.
The archer is optimistic of an Olympic berth and says that he is training hard for the upcoming tournaments as they will boost his chances of making the cut.
“I am practicing really hard for the upcoming tournaments as they will decide whether I make it to London or not. I am concentrating on both the mental and physical aspects of my game,” Banerjee said.
Rahul is happy with the exposure that the archers in India are getting nowadays in terms of the number of major tournaments they are participating in including the World Cup as well. But his major concern is with the lack of individual sponsorship from the government.
“The exposure is good. The major problem is of individual sponsorship. The government sponsors only major tournaments like World Cup, CWG, Asian games but there are several other not so high profile tournaments where we want to participate, but it is really hard to convince the government for funds.” he laments.
However, he is happy with the increase in the quality of facilities available to the archers, especially in Kolkata despite the negative reports in the media.
“There is certainly an increase in the quality of ground facilities and yes there are some deficiencies but we manage to make adjustments most of the times.”
He maintains that the coach and his elder sister whom he refers to as `didi` are the reasons behind his success and whatever he has achieved today is because of his sister and the coaches.
“I came to archery because of my sister. She has always been a guide to me. We travel a lot together for many archery tournaments and keep talking about the different aspects of the game.”
“Also our coaches have played a big role in helping us achieve whatever we have today. It would have been impossible without them,” he concludes.