Four Sri Lankan archers on Thursday (14) left for the United States of America in a bid to qualify for the biggest event in any athlete’s life, the Olympics. The team which is led by Indranath Perera includes Lakmal Rajasinghe, Anuradha Karunasena and Dilhara Salgado who will try out the best in their ultimate opportunity at the Archery World Cup Stage 3 Final Olympic qualifiers in Ogden, USA. The competition featuring nearly 400 archers from over 50 countries will begin tomorrow and will end on June 24. Despite many obstacles such as financial and logistical hindrances the determined archers left for USA beaming with confidence.
|From left: Indranath, Anuradha and Lakmal trained for months with high expectations. - Pic by Amila Prabodha.
They were well supported by the archery fraternity and the Ministry of Sports who eventually helped the three of the archers reach their destination despite initial hiccups. The formidable Sri Lanka outfit includes the current national champion Indranath and former national champion Lakmal in the men’s team.
The women’s team includes present national champion Anuradha and Dilhara who will be joining the team from Bangkok where she is undergoing training through a scholarship programme.
According to skipper Indranath, Sri Lanka has only around 250 archers. But their skills are of higher level as members of the national pool constantly change due to qualify of competition. The men’s national team consists of eight members while the number in the women’s team defers from time to time.
“The number of archers for a competition depends on its nature. For this particular competition in Ogden, USA only four, two men and women each, will represent the country. This is an important tour for us as it will be our only chance to prove and qualify for the Olympics in London,” Indranath said.
The Sri Lankan foursome was selected from hundreds of potentials, after days of trials held at the R. Premadasa Stadium weeks ago. They have been training daily under national coach Kesara Serasinghe and two Korean coaches, Jeoung Kieong Su and Sin Il Suk who are volunteers. For many years Sri Lankans archers have been training day in and day out behind the flag poles, in the open lawn, of the BMICH premises in Colombo. The conditions available for Sri Lankan archers have been appalling and it was evidently told by one of the Korean coaches who thought the locals are gifted with natural talent.
“In comparison they have developed a lot since I took over. These four archers could do something special; however I am confident that at least two will qualify for the Olympics in London. The standard of the men are very much impressive. But there are many areas Sri Lanka needs to develop. The players are doing all what they can but we hope more support could be given to the sport.
This sport is more involved with meditation. Archers need to control their mind and body as it needs great amount of concentration to be good at this sport. Sri Lanka has all the possibilities to go forward in archery if it is perfectly nurtured,” Jeoung Kieong Su, who is comfortable in conversing Sinhala told the Sunday Times. To qualify for one of the World Cup championships an archer needs to reach 1230 FITA (World archery governing body) points in two days. Usually for qualifiers three days are utilized but an archer needs to achieve the qualifying points within two days, using 36 arrows each at four different distances.