They have started calling Harvinder Singh “Shoot-off Master” for the ease with which he wins single-arrow shoot-offs. On Friday, Harvinder won three shoot-offs with ease as he claimed a historic first-ever bronze medal for India in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. This is Indias first-ever medal in archery in either Olympic or Paralympic Games and Harvinder Singh bagged it by beating South Korea’s Kim Min Su 6-5 in the bronze medal playoff.
It was the key moment and everyone’s eyes were on Harvinder as Kim had already shot an 8, Harvinder had to shoot a nine or a 10 to win the match and the 30-year-old Ph.D. student from Punjabi University, Patiala, shot a 10 to win the shoot-off and bronze medal.
“I have always given special attention to a shoot-off. So I am always confident while dealing with them. Today I dealt with three whereas, in the Asian Para Games in Jakarta, I had won two shootouts on my way to the gold medal. At that time I had shot an X (arrow in the inner 10 circle) and a 10 while today I shot 10 on all three occasions. Considering my wins in shoot-offs, teammates have started calling me ‘Shootoff Master’. It’s a nice tag to have,” Harvinder Singh said during a virtual interaction with the media organised by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) and Eurosport.
He had got the better of Bato Tsydendorzhiev of RPC in the pre-quarterfinals and Stefano Travisani of Italy in Round of 16 via shoot-offs earlier in the day. Harvinder had won two shoot-offs to win a gold medal in the Para Asian Games in Jakarta, in 2018.
Harvinder said he had always given special attention to shootouts and all of his practice sessions end in single arrow shootouts. “My coach Gaurav Sharma gets me to do shoot-offs after every session. I did one in my last training session before the competition here. So, I am always confident of it and today I shot three 10s to win the three shoot-offs,” said Harvinder.
Harvinder’s medal is quite creditable because it came in very difficult conditions as the weather pattern kept changing in Tokyo during the 13 hours that Harvinder spent at the Yumenoshima Final Field in Tokyo.
“There was a lot of pressure and we had to constantly adapt because the weather kept changing. First, it was raining, then it stopped and then it became quite windy and then finally started raining again towards the end of the day. We have to adjust our aim slightly up or down depending on the weather conditions and I had to do it many times. I could have won the bronze medal match without the shoot-off but the slight change in the weather meant I did not get the desired result from that arrow,” said Harvinder, who hails from Kaithal in Punjab.
Harvinder thanked coaches Kuldeep Wadwan and Gaurav Sharma, administrators at the SAI, Sonipat, officials associated with TOPS and government officials for their support throughout the last couple of years in helping him win bronze.
Harvinder said he has been off social media for the last few days and the entire day on Friday to avoid feeling further pressure as he went about his job.