The 17th Asian Games have been a "special" one for India's compound archery team, including young Abhishek Verma, and the Delhi archer feels the four medal haul will at last give the "less talked about" compound archers their due recognition in the country.
The more fancied recurve archers have hogged the limelight all these years but they drew a blank in Incheon, whereas India returned with four medals from compound archery, which made its debut in the Asian Games this year. (Day 12 Updates)
Verma was the toast of the Indian archery contingent in Incheon as he bagged two medals - a maiden gold in the men's team compound team event (with Rajat Chauhan and Sandeep Kumar) and a silver in the individual category.
"I can't measure how special this Asian Games has been for me and my team-mates. The Asian Games is the biggest event for compound archers and to fetch a gold and silver in the first Games is undoubtedly the biggest achievement of my career so far," Verma told PTI in an interview on the sidelines of a felicitation ceremony on Wednesday.
"We compound archers are less talked about. All these years recurve archery hogged all the limelight but I hope now compound archers will get some recognition in India. From now on it won't be just recurve recurve, it will be compound, recurve," he said.
By his own admission, 2014 has been a "special" year for Verma as he won the prestigious Arjuna Award besides the two medals at the Asiad.
"I still can't belive what I have achieved. The feeling has not sunk in yet. It's special for me," he said.
"These medals are rewards of our hardwork over the last two years. The Arjuna award gave me motivation to do well in the Asian Games and in future events so that someday I can win the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award."
Verma is a tad disappointed that coumpund archery is not yet an Olympic sport but feels the success of compound archery in its debut Asian Games will push its case to be included in the 2020 Olympics.
"No doubt it will be a big loss for India not to have compound archery in Olympics. If compound archery was included in Olympics, we would have definitely helped in adding to India's medals tally," the Delhi lad said.
"But Archery Assocaition of India and other countries are trying to include compound in Olympics. In Asiad 20 countries participated in compound archery which is a big thing. "
"Everyone is putting in their efforts. Recurve and compound are different events and to have recurve in Olympics and not compound is obviously disappointing. But I hope the success in this Asian Games will give a boost to compound archery's Olympic bid," he said.
Asked about his future ambitions, the ever-smiling archer said: "My future aim is to win a medal in Olympics if compound archery is included. Till date the two medals in Incheon are my highest achievement but I would like to convert them into two golds in 2019 Asian Games."
Verma dedicated his achievement to all those who played a role in his career.
"These two medals are big for me and it was a big task to win these medals. So I had built a chain which has helped in achieving this target. The first name in this chain is of the entire archery family, the Income Tax Dept which gave me a job, Hansraj College where I practice, my school, my coach Lokesh Chand and lastly my family. Without their support I couldn't have achieved what I did," he said.
For Verma archery happened by chance and then became a hobby.
"I never thought I would be an archer. My uncle told me to go for a sport and then I went to the sports teacher of my government school and told him Sir I want to play a sport where there is no money needed. He told me take up archery."
"Archery was popular in our government school and that's how I started archery in 2003," said Verma, who made his international debut in 2006 as a junior.