The 29-year-old archer will participate in his second Olympics campaign.

Atanu Das has become one of the most improved Indian athletes over the last few years. He is now the poster boy of Indian archery and has grown in leaps and bounds in recent times.

Born in Baranagar in the North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, Das took to the sport when he was aged 14. Two years later, he joined the Tata Archery Academy to hone his skills. Das quickly began to show his potential on the national stage under the training of Korean Lim Chae-wong. He grabbed a Gold medal in the 2011 National Games.

Soon his talents were evident on the global platform. Silver medals in the World Youth Championships and World University Championships followed. Since then, he has gone onto establish himself as the leading Indian men’s archer, winning several medals along the way.

We take a look at the key moments in Atanu Das’ career, ahead of his participation in the Tokyo Olympics. Here are five interesting things about his career:

5. The Thai bronze jinx

2011 was the year in which Atanu Das blossomed into a promising archer. He was part of the talented Indian squad that travelled to neighbouring Bangladesh to take part in the Asian Archery Grand Prix. The Indians were dominant in the event, going onto win two gold medals and a bronze.

However, surprisingly enough Thailand has proved to be a somewhat unlucky destination for Das. At the Asian Archery Grand Prix held in Thailand in 2013, Das was left disappointed at the fact that they were unable to convert any of their podium finishes into much greater successes. Three successive bronze medal finishes were achieved. In the recurve men’s team, Das had teamed up with Rahul Banerjee and Binod Swansi. Bombayla Devi was his teammate in the recurve mixed team, while the men’s individual event had the same outcome for him.

Six years later, in 2019, a much more talented Indian team suffered the same fate. This time his mixed team partner was Deepika Kumari while his men’s team colleagues were Jayanta Talukdar and Tarundeep Rai. As such, Thailand has been a disappointing venue for Atanu Das.

4. Near misses in the Archery World Cup

Atanu Das, who is employed with the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, has struggled for consistency in the Archery World Cup. The men’s and mixed recurve team events have seen him pick up silver and bronze medals in the past.

However, he hadn’t been able to leave his mark on the men’s individual recurve event until things changed recently. Sixth place finishes in the 2016 Asian Games in Jakarta and the 2018 Archery World Cup in Salt Lake City were the closest he came to grabbing glory in the individual event. But it was a far cry for where Atanu Das wanted to see himself.

3. Disappointment in Rio – part of the learning curve

The 2016 Rio Olympics proved to be a significant chapter in the career of Atanu Das. With India winning just one quota place in the men’s category for the Games, the Archery Association of India (AAI) chose to go ahead with trials to select the archer who would represent India at the Games.

Pitted against experienced archers such as Jayanta Talukdar and Mangal Singh Champia, not many fancied the chances of a young Atanu Das to make the cut. But the determined archer brought his A-game when it mattered and punched his tickets for his maiden Olympics.

Having finished a commendable fifth in the ranking rounds in the men’s individual event at the Rio Games, Atanu Das was expected to put up a fight once the knockouts got underway and he showed his true worth. The Indian archer breezed past Nepal’s Jitbahadur Muktan and then overcame a close contest against Cuban Adrian Puentes to reach the Round of 16.

The journey, however, ended there as Atanu Das had to bite the dust after going down to South Korea’s Lee Seung-yun in a close contest. On a windy Rio morning, Atanu Das needed a 10 with his final shot of the fifth set to take the contest into a shoot-off. However, he could only manage a 9. He missed the mark by few millimetres and that ultimately ended the Indian archer’s debut Olympics campaign.

2. Hitting the bullseye – Gold in Guatemala

August 2020 witnessed Atanu Das receive the prestigious Arjuna Award for his progression in the sport of archery. Buoyed by the award, he started preparations for yet another Archery World Cup campaign. This time the venue was the Central American country, Guatemala.

Das started the campaign by winning all his matches by a margin of 6-4. He got past Oscar Ticas of El Salvador in the first match, fellow countryman Pravin Jadhav in the Round of 16 and Canada’s Eric Peters in the quarters. Das then saw off Mexican Angel Alvarado in the semi-finals. In the final, his opponent was Spaniard Daniel Castro. The Indian archer held his nerves and shot three consecutive bullseyes in the final set to claim his maiden individual World Cup gold.

A stellar campaign concluded with Atanu Das on top of the pile. He will now be aiming to build on this success in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

1. Motivated by wife – aiming to script history

Despite the Indian archers missing out on participating in Stage 2 of the Archery World Cup in Lausanne, Switzerland due to visa issues, Atanu Das looks in good shape ahead of the upcoming Games.

Das tied the knot with ace archer Deepika Kumari last year. Since then, their only World Cup participation so far has resulted in both of them claiming individual gold medals. Motivated by his spouse, he has taken his game to another level. They will become the first Indian couple to participate in the Olympics.

A glance at the Archery World Rankings gives a clear picture of the 29-year-old’s development. Das is currently just outside the top ten, having jumped to world no.11 from being world no.22 in five years. In Tokyo, Das will be under the spotlight when he participates in the men’s individual and men’s recurve team events.

India’s latest attempt to win an Olympic medal in archery will resume soon. Limba Ram had come the closest to claiming a podium finish when he missed the bronze medal by a solitary point in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Atanu Das will be hoping that he can write his name in golden letters in Indian archery history by achieving glory in Tokyo.

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