Kolkata: Eight years after he represented India at the Athens Olympics as a 20-year-old, Tarundeep Rai will compete once again in London this time with a renewed hope of earning India its first Games medal in archery.
A junior member at the Athens 2004, Tarundeep, after the archery team secured its Olympic berth in the qualfiers held during World Cup Stage III in Ogden yesterday, has emerged as the most experienced in the team and the Sikkimese archer knows his job.
"It`s truly a proud moment for me," an ecstatic Tarundeep said.
"Having got a second chance to represent my country at the Olympics and to prove my skill in archery at the biggest stage is something very huge," Tarundeep said from Ogden after the team secured the Olympic berth.
"Last time around, I was inexperienced and a bit nervous. But this time, we are confident. No doubt, we have little time to prepare ourselves, but I can say our team is in top form. On current form, we hope to win a medal in the Olympics," he added.
He said the team was peaking at the right time and is in top gear to clinch a first-ever Olympic medal in archery.
"Olympics is very different. To win a medal there, all the members have to be in top form and the confidence level has to be very high," he said adding "we are just getting in there".
After his forgettable 2004 stint when he finished 32nd in individual and 11th in the team, Tarundeep suffered a career-threatening shoulder injury that put him out of action for about two years and he had to struggle for a place in the team.
Tarundeep made a fine comeback at the Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010 when he clinched a historic individual silver and team bronze.
"I am not in the best of form as an individual yet. But it feels good that we have finally made the London Olympics. There is a lot of difference shooting in the Asian Games and in the Olympics. But if I shot like I did in the Asian Games, I will definitely win a medal," Tarundeep said.
Asked how he dealt with the expectations given that it was the last tournament to qualify, he said: "Match was so tight and pressure was there. But when the match began we became much more confident and focussed and enjoyed it."
The Army archer said team coach Limba Ram treated them with dinner for the achievement.
Another key member Jayanta Talukdar also chipped in and said: "We are like over the top of the World."
The third member of the side, Rahul said the timing for getting back into rhythm could not have been better.
"It is awesome to achieve the Olympic qualification. We are back in form just before the Olympics."
Asked what went wrong against Japan in the final of the qualifer, Rahul said: Actually our target was to win the semifinals to seal the Olympic berth.
Asked which bow he used during this qualifying tournament as his bow case was lost in transit, Rahul said he continued to use the assembled one made from parts borrowed from his teammates Talukdar and Tarundeep.