Following the defeat of ace archers Deepika Kumari and Pravin Jadhav at the Quarterfinal stage of the Mixed Archery event of the Tokyo Olympics, Times of India (TOI) chose to mock the athletes over their performance.
On Sunday (July 25), the leading national daily published a contentious article titled, “Tokyo Olympics: India’s archers dig their own grave, again.” The article authored by Archiman Bhaduri sought to compare the defeat at a sporting event to digging one’s own grave. While the headline seemed to be a deliberate attempt to insult the athletes, the tone of the article was both condescending and demeaning to the sportspersons.
After losing out to Kim Je Deok and An San of South Korea, TOI mocked the Indian archers by claiming that they were ‘below par’ and handed over the victory to the opponents ‘on a platter’. “In fact, the Indian archers presented the two Korean Olympic debutants the victory on a platter, although both sides were below par. Archery’s powerhouse Korea won two sets despite scoring a low 35 out of a possible 40. This only showed how India allowed them to escape with victory,” the article claimed.
A supposed expert in archery, Archiman Bhaduri went on to claim that there was no coordination between Deepika Kumari and Pravin Jadhav. “There was little coordination among the Indian archers as they failed to boost each other after a poor shot. Deepika and Jadhav did not look comfortable as a team in their first match too, although they managed to come back from 1-3 down to beat the Chinese Taipei,” he added. The article further accused Jadhav of ending the Indian campaign at the Olympics with his shot.
While criticism is a part and parcel of any professional sportsperson’s career, an attempt to demean or undermine his/her achievements only weakens their confidence and morale. Both Praveen Jadhav and Deepika Kumari hail from humble backgrounds and managed to represent India at the largest stage of the sporting world. Kumari is currently the No.1 ranked archer in the world. After having undergone rigorous training for 4 years, they managed to reach the Quarterfinals.
This feat in itself is a matter of immense pride. But, with the headline and destructive criticism, TOI only managed to undermine the efforts of the two athletes.