Winning archery Olympic medal an achievable target -National champion Sajeev de Silva | Sunday Observer

Winning archery Olympic medal an achievable target -National champion Sajeev de Silva

4 October, 2020
Silver medal winners at the South Asian Games in 2019.
Silver medal winners at the South Asian Games in 2019.

If anyone can represent his or her country in two sports it could be said that it is the greatest achievement in their life and is rare in any country.

When you look back you can find only a few who have dominated in two sports in our country. Sajeev de Silva can be introduced as a unique player in this era.

The Youth Observer met him to discuss his sports career.

Q: Can you remember your beginning as an archer?

A: I began my archery career in 2012. Before that I was never involved in archery. After leaving school I thought of taking up this game and becoming a national player.

Q: Before you took up archery, you were a good oarsman. Why did you give up that sport?

A: In my school days I was involved in rowing. It is a remarkable sport. As a rower I participated in the Asian Games in China in 2010. However, we did not succeed in winning a medal.

After leaving school I thought I am not physically suitable for rowing. Then I found that that Shooting and Archery are sports in which I could win medals. Subsequently, I shifted to that game. That is why I gave up rowing.

Q: With no background in archery, how did you find stability in this game?

A: First I went to several archery coaches and learned the basics of the game. Thus, I found a skillful coach. I started my training under his directions. In 2016, I had a chance to represent the country at the South Asian Games in India where I won a Silver medal.

Q: You did represent the country in another sport too. Could you tell us about it?

A: Yes. It was a rare chance I had. In the 2017 Winter Sports in Japan I represented the country in cross-country skiing. I have represented the country in three sports.

Q: You have been crowned as national champion and as one of the best archers in country, what chance do budding archers in the country have?

A: Archers and shooters have a better chance of reaching world standards than other sports as there are no barriers such as height or weight. If you practice well and participate in enough competitions you could reach world standards. Those are the specific benefits for archers in our country. If we can win in the South Asian region, we can reach world standards easily.

Q: India and Bangladesh are the most prominent countries in the archery world today. What is the secret of their success? Why can’t we too achieve it?

A: Practice and taking part in more competitions is a must to improve our skills. Normally an archer must practice for 4-5 hours per day. They must go to the gym with a calm mind and do cardio exercises such as running. We must practise the whole year. Indians have built up a good platform to produce good archers and Bangladesh is also following that process. For that reason Bangladesh has overtaken us in this sport. We also have to giver our players proper facilities to develop their skills.

Q: Do you say the facilities given are not enough?

A: The Archery Federation tries to give maximum facilities for the archers. But it is not enough to reach world standards. India and Bangladesh begin training archers when they are around thirteen. However, we do not have enough facilities to be involved with archery at school level.

Today, some schools have begun archery and a few can become archers in their school days. If anyone can be involved in this sport in school it will be major boost to stabilise this sport. However, we had no facilities for archery in our school days. As the best breeding ground of sports, the school can find more talented players to easily reach world standards.

Q: National level archers have no proper place for practises. Do you agree with us?

A: The Federation has planned to conduct national pool practises at the Diyagama grounds as a solution for this problem. The new Sports Minister has discussed sports economy and hopes are bright for future.

Q: Your major prospect is the Olympics Games next year?

A: Yes. I have a proper plan achieve it. As an archer I have got my maximum points of 660 in my career. It can be compared to top ranking players in the world. I hope to perform well at the Olympic Games.

Q: How do you plan to reach Olympic standards?

A: The Archery World Cup will be held in France in June next year. I hope to participate and prove my suitability to participate in the Olympics. I think it will not be difficult for me.

Q: Among local sports bodies the Archery Federation does not have much funds. How do you participate in foreign tournaments?

A: The Federation has sponsored a few tournaments and the Sports Ministry has given facilities to participate in the South Asian Games. As an individual player I had to bear my personal expenses in a few tournaments. To develop the game the players must be given the chance to participate in selected overseas tournaments.

Q: You are now 29. How many more years do you plan to spend in sports?

A: My major target is to take part in the Olympics and win a medal for my country. I know that competitive sports is not a game. We have to put our whole life into sports. This is not a professional sport and we have to give up it in the future. I know that decision will have to be taken in the future. Until then, I will continue with my sports activities.

Q: After retirement from active sports do you plan to get involved in sports administration?

A: I think I must give something back to sports as a sportsman. Yes, I would like to join as an administrator one day.