In a major embarrassment for Indian archery, the senior recurve and compound teams could not board the flight to Medellin in Colombia and were forced to pull out of the season-opening stage one of the World Cup beginning on Monday.
The 23-member contingent was slated to board Royal Dutch Airlines KLM 872 from Delhi to Amsterdam early Saturday morning but due to “operational issues” the flight was delayed by two hours 53 minutes, that shattered their onward journey plan to Medellin.
According to well-placed sources, there was a delay in the sanction for the trip from the Sports Authority of India as the flight booking was done pretty late and close to the event schedule.
“Pakistan has opened up airspace but all the west-bound flights are still taking longer. They (ministry) could have planned accordingly and made the bookings well in advance,” the source said on condition of anonymity.
As per the itinerary accessed by PTI, the contingent had a one hour and 25 minutes lay-off at the Amsterdam airport for their onward journey to Bogota and then finally to Medellin where they were slated to reach at 8pm local time on Saturday.
According to the WhatsApp Customer Care of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the delay was caused due to “operation issues”. The Indian team had no alternate plans except to skip the event.
“There was no alternate flights available for such a big contingent. We tried different options but it was not possible to reach before Monday. Now we have to return to our camp in Pune,” a dejected women’s coach Purnima Mahato told PTI.
The miss means Deepika Kumari will not be able to defend her individual title that she had won at the stage one of the World Cup in 2018 which was held in Salt Lake City.
The newly-elected Archery Association of India had done the selection well in advance, announcing the A and B teams in March on the sidelines of the senior Nationals in Cuttack.
SAI’s executive director (Teams) Radhica Sreeman, who was the in-charge of the travel plan and logistics, did not respond when contacted.
The president of the Archery Association of India BVP Rao also could not be reached.
Recurve Men’s: Tarundeep Rai, Atanu Das, Pravin Jhadhav, Atul Verma.
Recurve Women’s: Deepika Kumari, Laishram Bombayla Devi, Komalika Bari, Madhu Vaidwan.
Coaches: Purnima Mahato, MB Gurung; Support Staff: Krishna Nandu Das, Oshin Sharma.
Compound Men’s: Abhishek Verma, Rajat Chauhan, Bhagwan Das, Aman Saini.
Compound Women’s: Jyothi Surekha Vennam, Muskan Kirar, Raj Kaur, Swati Dhudwal.
Coaches: Surinder Singh, Titomas Sharma; Masseur: Pinki.