Atul wins bronze, creates history
Atul Verma won India its first Olympic archery medal — a bronze — at the Youth Olympic Games at Nanjing on Tuesday.
The boy from Barabanki (Uttar Pradesh) downed Turkey’s Mete Gozoz 6-4 (29-28, 30-29, 27-27, 29-30, 29-29) in the play-off. Ranked No. 2 in the qualification round, Atul was 4-2 ahead in the semifinals against eventual silver medallist, Marcus D’Almeida of Brazil. The Indian, however, failed to hold his nerve and went on to lose 4-6 (28-28, 30-28, 28-28, 27-29, 27-28).
The gold went to Korean Lee Woo Seok, who got the better of D’Almeida 7-3 in the final.
Verma will be joining the Pune-based Army Sports Institute on his return, said India coach Ravi Shankar, who spotted his talent. “We are very proud of his achievement,” said National coaches, Shankar and Dharmendra Tiwari.
The sport’s first Dronacharya, Sanjeeva Kumar Singh, echoed the sentiment. “We have won medals at the World, Asian and Commonwealth levels, but an Olympic medal kept eluding us. Atul’s bronze is a great achievement and should go a long way in motivating youngsters to take up the sport,” he said.
“It is a fantastic achievement,” said the former secretary-general of the Archery Association of India, P.N. Mukherjee. “I just can’t believe that India has won an Olympic medal in archery.”
Coach Ashok Kumar Yadav, who transformed the youngster into an Olympic medal winner, said Verma was one of the 20 boys at the UP Sports Hostel in Sonbhadra, a town 108 km away from Banaras.
“But for the contribution of District Magistrate Pandari Yadav and sports officer Atul Sinha, it wouldn’t have been possible for us to produce an Olympic medallist,” said Yadav.