Archer Vishwas Kumar sat quietly in a corner and thought about his bad scores that eliminated him in the 1/8 elimination round in the individual recurve event for men at the Asian Games on Thursday.
"Just not my day," he murmured before he got up to pack his bags after losing to Ilfat Abdullin of Kazakhstan. "Four years of hard work disappeared in just four minutes."
The archer took a few minutes to get himself under control, but quickly went looking for the discrimination & # 39; with whom he had to deal during his preparation for the Asian Games. "The reality is that no one expected me to win, it does not come as a surprise that I'm lost," Vishwas said.
The archer said he felt like a "second string" member in his own team. "I am not in TOPS (Target Olympic Stage Scheme). There are a few, if you do not belong to the main squadron members in TOPS this means you do not expect to win medals, you only expect those under the TOPS to end up with this distinction. reduces the morale of the team, "said the eldest in the four-member recurve team.
The team only has Atanu Das in TOPS but that funding is not provided to other members such as Vishwas, Sukhchain Singh and Jagdish Chaudhary.
TOPS is a flagship program of the sports ministry that aims to help Indian top athletes. Under the scheme, selected athletes can request assistance for tailor-made training sessions with reputable coaches, participation in international competitions, purchase of equipment, services from support staff / staff such as physical trainer, sports psychologist, mental trainer and physiotherapist, etc. They also receive an out-of-pocket contribution of Rs 50,000 per month as a reward.
Vishwas, a bronze medalist in the 2006 Asian Games at the team event, said that two days before the start of the Jakarta event, he had received money to buy his equipment and use "second hand equipment" in the competition. "Sports Authority of India (SAI) gave us Rs 2.5 lakh for equipment in 2014-15 Now they have us the same amount minus GST. Now a standard arrow and bow took us about Rs 3 lakh," he said. "I had to borrow different parts of my bow from different archers, including the limb of Deepika Kumari and put them back together for use.
"I have no problem with used equipment, but you just see the mentality of those who lead the sport, they want us to win medals."
The archer said they get all the support of the army, its employers, but struggle in the absence of sponsors. "Army offers equipment, but the problem is that the process takes a long time – an arc is usually outdated by the time we get approval to buy it," said the archer from Uttar Pradesh.
The 34-year-old said he was in favor of having TOPS, but it must be well managed so that other athletes fighting for India will not feel alienated.
Ironically, both archers – Atanu and Deepika – supported by TOPS could not qualify for the semi-finals in an individual recurve event on Thursday, with the former losing in the quarter finals and the later in the recurve 1/8 elimination for women, as a fishwash. The other archer in the fight, Promila Daimary, lost in the 1/16 elimination round.