Archer Jit Bahadur Moktan aims for the target during a training session at the Dasharath Stadium, Tripureshwar on Saturday. (Bijay Gajmer/Republica)
KATHMANDU, Aug 1: The lone representative of Nepali archery in the Rio Olympics has set his sight on making it to the second round of the summer games to begin from August 5 in Brazil. Jit Bahadur Moktan, one of the seven players representing Nepal, will compete in men's 70 m individual recurve.
Rather than making a claim of touching at least a medal in the global sports festival, Nepali archery team has set a much realistic, though tough, target of finishing among top 64 in the initial round. And the archer and his coach are clear about their ambitions.
“Making it to the top 64 is my main target since it will open door for me to compete in the next round, the eliminator,” said Jit, who has been officially competing in archery nearly since a decade.
Dipak Raj Gurung, coach of the archer and also the president of Nepal Archery Association (NAA) echoed similar views. “We are not in a position to bring home a medal. So, obviously, making it to the top 64 in the initial round and progressing to the elimination round is our primary target.
This will also help us break the national record,” Gurung said.
Prem Prakash Pun holds the national record in the event with 370 points set during the 2010 Asian Grand Prix in Thailand. Jit has also set his sight on eclipsing the record set by Prem.
Jit and coach Gurung left for Rio de Janeiro with fellow Nepali players and coaches of swimming and judo on Sunday. Archery will be held from August 6 to 12.
NAA was informed about Jit's participation in Rio on June 23 through a wild card entry. Thus, the archer could not have a long-term training focused for Rio. However, Jit is satisfied with his training. He was kept in a closed-camp training in Pokhara for 15 days after being notified about the wild card entry in late June. He practiced hitting the target from 18 meters during the indoor camp in Pokhara. After returning from Pokhara, he continued his training at the Dasharath Stadium until a day before leaving for Rio.
"The training I underwent was sound. I trained for 6 hours per day under the guidance of coach Gurung. So I am fully satisfied with my preparation," Jit said. He, however, expressed grievances over training venue. "We lack a proper training venue. Our training would have been more effective and beneficial if we had a proper venue," said Jit, adding that there isn't any proper infrastructure for training.
Meanwhile, coach Dipak Raj Gurung also seemed happy with the preparation. "We have trained well despite limited resources. We were in normal training even before getting the notice of wild card entry. So we are ready," he said.
As archery demands high level of concentration, the training was focused on mental sharpness, according to coach Gurung. "This game is not just about physique, it's about mental balance and psychology. So, 90% of our training was focused on these aspects,” he said.
Four archers including Jit had participated in the Continental Qualifying Tournament (CQT) on July 26 last year, which was also the qualifiers for the Olympics. Scoring 630 points in the qualifying rounds was the minimum requirement to earn wild card entry for Rio. Jit scored 642 and became the only Nepali archer to meet the minimum requirement.
Nepal Archery Association's General Secretary Ramesh Prasad Shiwakoti expressed his happiness over the improvement of Nepali archery of late. "We have progressed well," he said. "Our target was to earn wild card entry by 2020 Olympics but earning a place in Rio is a bonus.”
Siwakoti was also optimistic about the future of Nepali archery. He said that appropriate investment in the game including training venue and grass-roots development could even fetch Olympic gold for Nepal in the future.