Tarundeep Rai has been one of India’s finest archers, doing the country proud on innumerable occasions. He was the first one to win a silver for India at the Asian Games. Tarun also played a key role in India’s dominance in the recently-concluded South Asian Games, winning a hat-trick of gold medals. (South Asian Games: India finish with record-breaking 308 medals) The ace Indian archer turns 32 today and spoke exclusively to indiatoday.in and spoke about his desire to do well for India at the Rio Olympics after disappointing at the London Games.Excerpts:Sudeer Mahavadi: India did incredibly well at the South Asian Games recently, winning 308 medals in all. How do you rate this performance ?Tarundeep Rai: Well India has been dominating the SAF Games right from its inception. Yes the increasing medal tally, especially the gold medals in each edition, shows that India has improved by leaps and bounds and that is a positive sign for archery.Sudeer: It was particularly good to see you come back with a vengeance as you have been in and out of the Indian team.?Tarundeep: Yes certainly I am delighted with my performance. But I should also admit that since I started, this sport has come a long way. You see quite a few youngsters taking up archery. I remember when I strung a bow for the first time, very few showed interest in this sport. People in fact hardly knew it. We hardly had good equipment.But now almost all of us have world class equipment. So the competition levels are growing, day-by-day in archery. Many aspiring and talented juniors are coming up. I must say this is one of the reasons why I couldn’t make it to the team on some occasions. Well, I had some injury issues as well in between. But on top of that I always feel happy when some juniors come up and beat us.advertisementSudeer: You represented India twice at the Olympics and you must be hoping for selection for the coming Rio Games?Tarundeep: Obviously. I have been working hard for that. Except in the Olympics, India has done well everywhere. I will give my 100% not just to participate in the Olympics for the third time, but to win medals for our country. In London, I missed a great chance. If I am in the team, I won’t disappoint now.Sudeer: As a seasoned archer, how do you describe India’s performances over the last four five years?Tarundeep: Well, there has been a big improvement as I mentioned earlier. Archers from India have huge potential to win an Olympic medal. If you look at the graph of Indian archers over the last four years there has been considerable growth.Sudeer: Do you agree we have still got to go a long way when it comes to Asian Games and Olympics?Tarundeep: First, it can’t be denied that there is a huge demand for this sport all over. Everybody is improving day-by-day in world archery. So we also need to improve. We all have the potential to win Olympic medals. The only thing is, we must deliver at the right time. And I believe that day is not very far.Sudeer: It is good that the compound bow has been included in the last Asian Games. If it gets included at the Olympics in future how good will it be for archery?Tarundeep: That will be really awesome. We are all praying for that. Indian archers have really been outstanding in this discipline over the last couple of years. In fact, a lot of youngsters are getting more attracted to the compound bow, as archers enjoy some advantages. You release the arrow with the trigger, unlike in recurve. The weight of the said bow is lighter. For sure, India can certainly hope for some medals.Sudeer: Are the archers happy with the facilities they have these days. What support do they still need?Tarundeep: Yes I would say. As far as I am concerned I have no complaints. I am getting what I need for archery from Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ). My state, Sikkim, has always supported me. I am sure the archers are encouraged by all organisations nowadays. Even the federation is doing a great job now, holding quite a few events. There is hardly any rest we get.Sudeer: Today you turn 32 and you share your birthday with Bombayla Devi. Was there any occasion when you celebrated together, during a tournament perhaps ?Tarundeep: No such plans. Yes it may have happened on some occasions when Bombayla and I were involved in a tournament, that we celebrated together. I have a three-year-old son. And I hardly get time to spend with my family. I am blessed to have a supporting wife, my parents and siblings. They take care of everything when I am away. Pursuing archery is very, very difficult, I think. I live away from my family. I am very, very happy with my wife because she understands me and my archery.advertisementSo that’s why she sacrifices so much to take care of all the responsibilities of our family and our child. This allows me to focus on archery without worry. In recognition of her sacrifices, I hope to really celebrate my birthday after I win an Olympic medal.Sudeer: Your future ambitions?Tarundeep: To be a good father to Nusam Singh Rai, because I am unable to take him to a doctor when he gets sick. That is the first ambition. I want to be a good husband to Anjana Bhattarai, because I am not able to be with her when she feels lonely. To be a good son to my parents because I couldn’t be home when they actually needed me. To be a caring sibling to my little sister and dashing brother is also very important.Besides that, I would like to start my archery academy in Sikkim. I long to contribute to the sport’s growth in my home state, so that many, many Sikkimese brothers and sisters will come up and win Olympic medals for their motherland….Jai hind.