Although the women’s team did not qualify, the quartet of Deepika kumari, Atanu Das, Tarundeep Rai Y Pravin Jadhav entered the mega event with new hopes of winning the country’s first Olympic medal in the sport.
The biggest prospects are the husband and wife duo of Das and Deepika who would seek to recreate the magic of the Paris World Cup in the mixed tag competition that would debut at the Games on Saturday at Yumenoshima Park.
Since the 1988 Games, India has produced many champions in the sport with players like Limba Ram and later Dola Banerjee winning at all levels except the Olympics.
Jayanta Talukdar had become world number two in 2006, while Dola had raised the bar in 2007 by becoming world champion, but they all failed in Beijing 2008.
What followed was a meteoric rise from Deepika, who turned many heads at the young age of 15, winning the World Junior Championships in 2009 and then taking two golds at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi the next year. .
But in London 2012, he made a first-round start when an Indian team in full force failed to make any impact, and the start was no better in Rio de Janeiro four years later.
Competing in her third consecutive Olympics, two-time World No. 1 Deepika has seen it all from the lows in London to bottoming out at Rio 2016.
Five years later, Ranchi’s goalkeeper is in the shape of her life having won five World Cup gold medals of late.
Wiser and perhaps more daring, Deepika’s biggest challenge would be to beat the Koreans, who are strong both mentally and physically.
“It is very important because Indian archery does not have an Olympic medal, so I want to win,” said Deepika before the Games.
“I want to prove to myself that I can win. That is why it is very important to me, to my entire archery team and to my country.”
In the absence of defending champion Chang Hye Jin, who failed to make the cut, Deepika’s biggest threat is Kang Chae Young, who would have been world No. 1 if the Olympics were held in 2020.
The promising 20-year-old An San, who had beaten Deepika in straight sets on her way to winning gold at the Tokyo 2020 Test Event in July 2019, would also pose a major challenge.
Having qualified for the first time since 2012, the Indian men’s team also offers some promise and it would be a great achievement if they reached the quarter-finals.
Comprised of veteran army goalkeeper Tarundeep Rai, Das and up-and-coming Pravin Jadhav, the men’s team won a silver medal at the World Championships in 2019 to reserve their spot at the Olympics.
Rai is competing in his third Olympics since he debuted in Athens 2004, while Das will make his second appearance after Rio.
The world rankings do not paint the right picture, as neither Korea nor Chinese Taipei, China and Japan have actually competed internationally since the second half of 2019.
All four nations will be in full force in the Japanese capital and it remains to be seen whether the Indians will be able to overcome the Asian threat and the familiar pressure of being in the Olympics.