August 1, 2011 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): Archer Rahul Banerjee, one of the big names in India, has just been conferred the Arjuna Award. Rahul started archery at the age of 13 inspired by his sister Dola Banerjee, also an archer of repute. His first international appearance was in Youth World Championship in 2004. He won several gold medals at the archery World Cup in 2008 and 2009. In the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, he won gold medal in Men’s individual recurve event. Rahul talks about his journey and passion for the game. Read the interview at Calcutta Tube.
After starting archery at 13 years of age today you have received the “Arjuna” award, how are you feeling now?
Yeah, I am feeling very happy right now. It was a dream come true for me. Arjuna award is a big achievement for any Indian. I am very glad that I could achieve it. But I thought that I will receive that in the last year as far as my performance was concerned, but still it feels great. And I am thankful to the archery association for the support.
In 2008 – 09 your FITA ranking was 6 and now you are 23rd, what is the reason of this off form?
Actually for the last 3-4 tournaments I did not do better. And I am also changing my shooting form after the Commonwealth Games so that is a reason for this. And archery is a very competitive game, if my opponent’s arrow struck half a centimetre away than mine, then he can win the game.
There are so many conventional sports available here, why you chose archery?
Basically its my elder sister Dola Banerjee from whom I got the influence to be an archer. And I get a lot support from her to increase my level.
After starting your international career in 2004 till now you have achieved just two gold medals individually, what is the reason for this?
Yes, it is true that I have not achieved much individual golds, but you cannot ignore the group achievements and there is a long way to go and I am confident about making the figures double within the coming 3 years.
How is your preparation for the London Olympic?
It is going very well now. In fact tomorrow I am leaving for Jamshedpur for training. Both the physical and the mental training is going well. I am practising more than 8 hours a day right now and feeling confident to show some good results.
What do you think about the future of this sport in West Bengal?
I am very much confident about the bright future of this sport in Bengal. There are lots of good talents here, new boys and girls are showing very impressive forms right now. But the government has to take some firm steps for the development and the welfare of this sport. It is a very costly sport, the cost of a good equipment is very high, so the government should look after the players and they should arrange a good number of sponsors for this sport.
Any future plan to make an Archery Academy here in West Bengal?
Surely, it will be a pleasure to me to make good archers here. I have a plan for this after my retirement. But there is also the government factor, and I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Any plan to promote archery?
Yes.. I can do anything for promoting this sport. I just love it and I mean it when I say I can do anything for promoting archery.
Photo / Interview – Subhajit Das