Sri Lanka field first team at Hyundai Archery World Cup stage
Sri Lanka’s Nipun Sangeeth Senevirathne is clearly enjoying himself on the Antalya competition field – and would likely win the prize for most distinctive mane of hair at the competition.
Seeing Sri Lanka field a full recurve men’s team is one of the more unexpected sights in an Antalya fixture that has seen all the big archery nations send a squad.
This is Sri Lanka’s first-ever trip with a team to a stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup.
The last time a full, three-athlete squad from the island went to a major tournament was in 2011, for the World Archery Championships, although a handful of individuals have represented the nation on the circuit over the years.
Like many other athletes in Antalya, the Sri Lankans are gearing up to represent their country at the Asian Games – but there are bigger plans, too.
“We’re working out how we are going to get to the Olympics,” said De Silva Sajeev. And that includes more Hyundai Archery World Cup events?
“It’s not confirmed yet. We’ll see how we get on with this competition.”
There are between 300 and 500 archers in Sri Lanka. About 10 of those shoot over 600 points for the 72-arrow 70-metre qualifying round regularly, and maybe five who can hit scores above 630.
The three-strong team in Antalya is coached by player-manager Indraneth Perera, an archer “taking a break”.
Sri Lanka is currently advertising for a full-time recurve coach; their best archers have also been out to Kim Hyung Tak’s training centre in Korea for a week-long camp.
De Silva was the only one of the three to make the cut in Antalya. The team finished 29th.
“Not quite as well as we were hoping,” said Senevirathne. “But I suppose we’re not here often enough.”
“That’s not a good excuse, of course. We’re well down on our personal bests, but there’s room for improvement.”
It’s a long road to competing on the world stage, but one that Sri Lanka has started.
“We aren’t worried. Because we know we can shoot three tens. We’ve all done it.”
And it looks like this team will enjoy the journey.
The second stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup takes place in Antalya, Turkey on 20-26 May.