London: A distraught women's archery coach Purnima Mahato says the only reason for India's disastrous performance at the London Olympics she could think of is perhaps their inexperience at performing on the big stage.
Mahato told IANS on Thursday that she was as much puzzled at her wards' performance, particularly that of Deepika Kumari, as anyone else back home.
Intriguingly, she now says that the archers should have practised back home instead of going over to London ten days in advance.
The most worrying aspect of this slump, she feels, is that it will take back India's archery at least four years and that means catching up all over again.
"We have gone backwards by four years now. All the good work we did in the last two three years is undone now. By the time we adjusted to the conditions, it was too late," Purnima said.
"We did not work hard enough. We came here 10 days in advance but now I feel it would have been better had we trained in India. The girls could not shoot ten pointers frequently and were inconsistent."
A lot was expected from the six-member team which exited the competition with world no.1 Deepika losing her opening knock-out match at Lord's here on Wednesday. The 18-year-old's shocking loss was the biggest disappointment to go with her early exit in the team event alongside Chekrovolu Swuro and Laishram Bombayala Devi.
From day one, it did not look good for India. The world no.2 trio of Deepika, Bombayala and Swuro produced a below-par effort in the ranking round and were stunned by Denmark in the opening Eliminator. They came eighth, 22nd and 50th, respectively.
"We should have done a lot better in the ranking round. That would given us confidence going into the knock-out match and a better draw as well. There was a lot of hype but our realistic chance of a medal was in the team event and Deepika in the singles," said the coach.
Indian women had qualified for the Olympics after finishing runners-up to Italy in the World Championships last year. Deepika went into her Olympic debut after bagging the World Cup in Antalya, Turkey in May.
Purnima said performing at the iconic venue got the better of her team.
"Here, all the matches were held in the main stadium in front of a packed crowd while in World Cups and other big tournaments only semis and finals take place separately. The girls were not used to the atmosphere at all," she said.
Talking about the men's team comprising Jayanta Talukdar, Tarundeep Rai and Rahul Banerjee, she said: "They need to work harder than the girls. We will go back and decide on what needs to be done next. We got all the attention in the run-up to the Olympics and we are prepared for the expected criticism.
"People started to know about archery after we did well in the Commonwealth Games. Now we will have to start from scratch to be noticed again."
The men lost to Japan in the first round while Rai and Banerjee reached the second stage in individual event.
The team returns home on Sunday.