NEW DELHI: Indian archers are still hanging in limbo despite a new archery body, led by union minister Arjun Munda coming to power. With the federation coffers supposedly empty and the elections yet to be recognized, a repeat of an incident in Pune last month has played out again. Then, recurve archers assembled to compete in a trial for Tokyo Olympics qualifiers were told to arrange for their own boarding and lodging outside the competition venue.

This time, the country’s top compound archers and some of the promising juniors have been told by the new federation to look for their own food and stay in Sonepat, the venue for two separate selection trials.

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While the earlier episode occurred as there was no archery association in place and the proceedings were being handled by a Delhi High Court-appointed transitory committee, this time, with the newly-elected Munda faction in command, the archers had expected a better deal. But, the archers and accompanying coaches/officials have been told to foot their own bills yet again.

As per the norms, it’s the duty of the federation to arrange for boarding and lodging since it’s a trial connected to a World Cup and an Asian meet. When contacted, a federation official cited two reasons for this. “The coffers of the new federation are empty as bills amounting to lakhs are yet to be settled by the previous dispensation led by president BVP Rao.”

“Then, the Delhi High Court and the sports ministry haven’t yet recognised the election. The returning officer, P K Tripathi, has submitted his report to the court and it will pass direction accepting the AAI’s elections on February 14.

Thereafter, the ministry will also recognise the federation. This is a due process which has to be followed. At present, there’s no official signatory in the AAI until the court and the ministry accepts the outcome of the elections. Only after that, the new body will start functioning.”

The first trial, beginning on Tuesday at the SAI Centre, Sonepat, will be held to select the junior Indian archery team for the 2020 Asia Cup World Ranking Tournament Stage 1 in Bangkok from March 8 to 15. The trial, which will conclude on Thursday, will feature over 2500 junior archers in both men and women recurve and compound categories from across the country. Equally interesting is the timing of the trial which has been scheduled so closer to the last date of sending entries, February 14.

The second trial will be to select the senior compound archery team for two World Cup stages – 1st stage to be held in Guatemala City (April 19 to 26) and the 2nd stage in Shanghai, China (May 4 to 10). Two teams (rank 1-4 and rank 5-8) will be selected from the trial scheduled from February 29 to March 2 in Sonepat. Top compound archers like Rajat Chauhan, Abhishek Verma and Jyoti Surekha Vennam, among others, will compete at the meet.

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