Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Mar.27 (ANI): Over 350 archers from across India are in Bhopal to compete in the 19th Seniors National Archery Championship.
The Indian round, which involves the use of wooden bows and arrows, commenced on Monday and saw competitors representing 32 teams line up to aim for the bulls eye.
State Environment Minister Jayant Malaiya inaugurated the championship after a flag march by the archers.
Participants expressed their optimism over the future of the sport on the back of India's increasing presence on the international stage.
"Archery is going to have a bright future because we are now getting sponsors, and the sport is becoming more popular. In the recent World Cup, India won the maximum number of medals. For stage one of the next World Cup, a team is going to go to China. All the archers are performing well. Our scores are at a high level, at par with the best in the world," said Anuj Kumar, a participant.
Officials of the Archery Association of India (AAI) were also hopeful of a good showing by India in the 2012 London Olympics.
"Our archers are considered as the second best in the world. We have had many world champions such as Deepika Kumari. We are very hopeful that our women's team will win a medal in the upcoming Olympics," said Pramod Chandolkar, Joint Secretary of the AAI.
Tournaments such as these are a good opportunity for upcoming archers to catch the attention of potential sponsors, which can provide an immense boost to the ambitions of those from humble backgrounds.
"The equipment is too expensive for us to buy. One recurve bow costs at least 100,000 rupees ($1960). We do not have that kind of a budget. I will participate in recurve events when I can afford one," said Chandraprasad Goreng, an archer.
The five-day event will see archers, both men and women, participate in the 50 metres and 30 metres events among other categories.
The next major competition for India's archers is undoubtedly the London Olympics, which are less than four months away.
High hopes rest on the women's recurve team comprising of Deepika Kumari, L Bombayla Devi and Chekrovolu Swuro, who have scripted international victories for India in the past. (ANI)
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