Published 18:52 IST, April 28th 2024

Fabulous 40: Tarundeep Rai's journey from Asian Games snub to World Cup gold

For the first time, Indian men's team defeated archery powerhouse Korea in a World Cup final, a win that may pave the way for their Paris Olympic qualification.

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Tarundeep Rai | Image:

Going strong at 40, top Indian archer Tarundeep Rai on Sunday revealed that his exclusion from the Asian Games side last year left him "boiling with anger" but that served a wake-up call also.

"Mein gusse se fut raha tha (I was boiling with anger) and decided that I will give it one last shot," the three-time Olympian told PTI from Shanghai after winning a historic World Cup gold on Sunday.


"Some strange qualification rules meant that I was out of the Indian team for Hangzhou Asian Games despite doing well," added Rai, the only Indian recurve archer to win an individual silver at Asian Games (Guangzhou 2010).

The Indian men's recurve team of Rai, Dhiraj Bommadevara and Pravin Jadhav downed reigning Olympic champions South Korea without dropping a set to win the World Cup gold for the first time after 14 years.


For the first time, Indian men's team defeated archery powerhouse Korea in a World Cup final, a win that may pave the way for their Paris Olympic qualification.

Rai was also a member of the gold medal-winning team in the 2010 World Cup which was also held in Shanghai.


To compete at the top level in a precision sport like archery, one has to be in the top of fitness and the Pune-based Army man knew it's "now or never" for him.

So, he had to implement some drastic lifestyle changes -- adopting a diet comprising 60 per cent fruits and dedicating more time to the gym, alongside his regular shooting training.


"As you know, once you start getting old, the core muscles tend to lose flexibility and strength, becoming less responsive.

"It will be a shame to call me an athlete if I can't compete at that level. I had to give double the effort of a youngster," said Rai, who shed 12kg in two months after his Asian Games snub last year.


After missing out from the Asian Games last year, Rai made a comeback at the Asian Championships and won a silver at the Baghdad Asia Cup earlier this year.

Then, he made the cut for the India's team for the World Cup and Olympics from a two-month long trial.

"I feel amazing right now, like I'm in the best shape ever, and I've got this childlike energy that keeps me going," added Rai who began his international career at the 2003 World Championships and represented in his first Olympics at Athens in 2004.

In the Indian team, Rai has his 21-year-old Army colleague Dhiraj Bommadevara along side 27-year-old Pravin Jadhav.

The trio shot splendidly to qualify behind South Korea and then overcame Indonesia, Spain and Italy to set up a title clash with the world champions.

"Honestly we were not that confident to win over Korea but we didn't think about it much," he said about their winning mantra.

"I also did not tell the boys that we had won our last gold medal here in Shanghai, 14 years back. It would have created undue pressure.

"We just went there to replicate what we have been doing at practice and did not think much. The inclusion of sports psychologist has also helped," Rai added.

The mindset definitely helped as they created early pressure on the Koreans by shooting three 10s in the first set.

"Scoring a perfect 10 from the start puts pressure on your opponent, whether it's Korea or any other team, and that's exactly what happened. We just hope to hold on to this momentum till Paris Olympics," he signed off. 

18:52 IST, April 28th 2024