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Forty and Focused, Tarundeep Rai Aims for Unfinished Olympic Business

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At 40 years old, Indian archer Tarundeep Rai is a testament to enduring excellence and
unwavering dedication. He was born on February 22, 1984, in Namchi – a scenic high-altitude settlement of South Sikkim.

Tarundeep Rai made his international debut aged 19 at the 2003 Asian archery championships in Myanmar.

He won his maiden gold medal at the 2004 Asian Grand Prix Bangkok.

As he gears up for his fourth Olympics, Rai’s journey is marked by remarkable consistency and resilience.

Courtesy Olympics

An esteemed member of the Indian Army, his
disciplined approach and formidable skill have made him a stalwart in the archery world.

Courtesy FirstPost

Rai’s longevity in the sport not only showcases his personal tenacity but also serves as an
inspiration to athletes across the nation.

Tarundeep made his Olympic debut in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games wherein the team finished 11th and lost in first elimination to Greek archer, he went on to represent the country in the 2012 London Olympics where he finished 17th and 9th in the individual and team men’s recurve events

At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where India only made it to the quarter-finals of the men’s team recurve event while he could not make it beyond the 1/16 elimination round.

Courtesy Getty Images

He was conferred with the Arjuna Award in the year of 2005 thanks to performance such as Bronze in Asian Championships and Silver in World Championships.

He won the individual silver at the 2010 Asian Games, becoming the first Indian archer to win an individual medal at the competition.

Courtesy SikkimExpress

He was given the Padma Shri – India’s fourth-highest civilian award – in 2020.

He has qualified for the upcoming Paris Olympics by virtue of his men’s team quota through world rankings.

2024 season so far

The year so far for him has been marked with highs and lows, with moments of ecstasy and
also despair.

Tarundeep had a perfect start to the year, winning individual silver and men’s team gold at
the Baghdad 2024 Asia Cup.

Having had complete dominance throughout the tournament, he lost the final against compatriot Dhiraj in the men’s individual final. The men’s team deservedly won the gold medal without breaking a sweat.

Rai continued with this momentum, clinching the historic gold medal in the men’s team event
at the Shanghai World Cup.

Courtesy HT

Interestingly, it was a moment of déjà vu for him, as he had also been part of the gold-winning team at the 2010 World Cup in Shanghai.

This achievement adds another feather to the cap of his long and illustrious career, displaying his consistency and persistence.

Standing tall as a source of motivation to the youngsters Pravin and Dhiraj, he helped the
team navigate through the windy conditions at the Shanghai World Cup and defeat the
Korean side to claim the gold.

The victory was particularly momentous as Rai and his team bested the formidable Korean archers, traditionally the archery powerhouse.

Courtesy TOI

This win also helped them climb the rankings and reach the number 2 position, pushing them closer to the Olympic qualification.

However, the excitement of the Shanghai victory was somewhat dampened by disappointing
results in the subsequent two World Cups.

They lost in the second round tamely to Canada at the Yecheon World Cup and to the Netherlands at the Antalya World Cup.

Moving the focus to his individual performances in the World Cups, his best result has been
the quarterfinal finish in the Shanghai World Cup, losing out to the eventual champion in that
edition.

He lost in the first rounds of Stage 2 and 3 of the World Cup. Despite occasional setbacks in his individual performances, Tarundeep consistently demonstrates his prowess as a dependable team player, contributing immensely to the team’s achievements.

Will Tarundeep Rai Shine in Paris?

The recurve archery contingent is going in full numbers to Paris, carrying a lot of hopes and
expectations to finally get India their first archery medal. And who is better than the veteran
Tarundeep Rai to spearhead this campaign?

Let us analyse and highlight some of the archers who could potentially pose a threat to
Tarundeep at the Paris Olympics 2024 (this analysis includes insights for both individual and
men’s team events).

Courtesy AP

First up is South Korea’s terrific trio of Kim Woo-jin (2-time Olympic gold medalist), Kim
Je-deok (Tokyo Olympics and Asian Games gold medalist), and Lee Woo-seok (Asian
Games gold medalist in men’s team and mixed team).

It is quite possible that Rai will have to
face these archers in the individual rounds, and they can prove to be the trickiest opponents
since Korea comes in as the clear favorite.

If our male archers perform exceptionally well in
the qualification round, then the men’s team can be seeded in the top four, allowing us to
advance directly to the quarterfinals. This is critical to avoid Korea until the semi-finals and
ensuring a likely podium finish.

The Chinese and Japanese teams can go deep in this edition and are potential medal
winners.

Brady Ellison of the USA cannot be counted out. He is the world record holder with a score
of 702/720 and has been a 2-time Olympic silver medalist (team) and an individual bronze
medalist.

Tang Chih-chun of Chinese Taipei was the team event silver medalist at Tokyo.
Marcus Vinicius D’Almeida of Brazil, Florian Unruh of Germany and Steve Wijler of the
Netherlands are the underdogs who can surprise everyone by causing an upset.

Rai’s experience should definitely help him overcome these archers, in case he faces them.
Lastly, the home favourite French team having experience on their side with Thomas
Chirault and Jean-Charles Valladont, and the Italian team will be the ones to look out for in
the later stages of the competition.

Written by Khushi

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