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Tokyo Olympics: Deepika Kumar banking on experience to earn India’s first medal in archery | Tokyo Olympics News – Times of India

July 21, 2021

Starting as a kid targeting ripened mangoes with stones and makeshift bamboo arrows at orchards near home to satiate hunger in her childhood, the girl from Ratu Chatti village, around 15km away from Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi, is on the threshold of making history by opening India’s account in Olympic archery. And Deepika Kumari has enough fire in belly for that Olympic glory.
But for that to happen, the current women’s world No. 1 will have to control her emotions and heartbeat, handle pressure of playing at the biggest stage much better than her previous two Games outings and negotiate wind at Yumenoshima Park, the venue for Tokyo 2020 archery events.

Having resumed competition following Covid-enforced lockdowns in 2020, Deepika has been in the peak of form going into the Olympics but pandemic made the road tougher in between.
“When the lockdown happened, we were completely blank as Olympic qualifiers were in a month’s time. Suddenly we had no idea what to do amongst all the uncertainties. It was a tough time to adjust to,” she had said earlier during an interaction.

Deepika had also admitted that the situation adversely impacted everyone’s training and it took them some time to get back to the form they were in before lockdown.
Tying the knot with long-time boyfriend and fellow Olympic archer, Atanu Das, on June 30 last year helped to give Deepika a practice partner at home to stay fit during the pandemic. The couple posted some fun-filled videos of their practice sessions at home on their social media accounts which also reflected their continuous effort to be in good health, mentally.
Regaining the numero uno spot following the hat-trick of golds at Archery World Cup Stage 3 in Paris about a month ago, Deepika has a lot of expectations from herself. However, she has been in a similar position before, albeit as a teenager, when she made her Olympic debut at London 2012 as the then top-ranked woman archer. But a bout of fever before her event combined with the pressure to perform and the gusts at Lord’s — archery venue at London Games — to blow away her dreams in the opening round.
“I have learnt a lot from the last two Olympics and past competitions. I am working a lot on the mental side of the game and have gained a lot of confidence,” Deepika said before her departure to Tokyo. About the ways to handle Olympic pressure, the ace archer added, “At the moment, it’s only about you and your arrow and you are trusting each other. Only my target is visible at that time.”
Making her name famous across world for well over a decade now, Deepika has ticked all the boxes what archery has to offer but for an Olympic medal. In Rio, she was eliminated in the round of 16, further delaying her wait for a Games glory.
Overall, the 27-year-old has nine gold, 12 silver and seven bronze medals across World Cups. She is a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist (individual & women’s team, 2010) and a double World Championships silver medallist (2011 & 2015, Copenhagen). Deepika, the only Indian in the women’s section at Tokyo, has qualified for her third Games in the individual and mixed team events. Atanu, Tarundeep Rai and Pravin Jadhav are the men archers to qualify for this edition of the showpiece event.
Deepika, well aware of the enormous expectations, had said after the golds in Paris, “This is the first time I have won all three medals in a World Cup. I’m really happy but at the same time, I have to continue improving as we have some very, very important competitions lined up.”
However, in a precision sport, she needs to control her heartbeat to hit the bullseye. During a video chat with Olympic shooter Apurvi Chandela about a year ago, Deepika had explained, “You have to control your heartbeat for a perfect aim. If you have pressure and your heartbeat starts going up it’s really dangerous because the shot can miss target. It’s a fraction of a second in which you have to shoot the arrow between two heartbeats.”
“Deepika has won nearly everything apart from an Olympics medal. This time, it cannot be said that she does not have the experience as this will be her third Olympics,” first Indian woman to be world No. 1, Dola Banerjee, said of her former teammate.
However, the ban on spectators – owing to the raging virus which is still threatening the Olympics – can do wonders to Deepika’s as well as Indian archery’s fortunes by taking away the pressure from vociferous fans at the Olympic venues.
“Absence of crowd can be a bit of an advantage for India. Host nations especially have tremendous support and that can work against you if you are playing against them. Our archers are not used to crowds. At our ranges, we usually have only players and a few officials, not too many supporters,” Banerjee had explained.
Dronacharya Award-winning archery coach Dharmendra Tiwary, too, had echoed Banerjee’s thoughts, saying, “Spectators fill the galleries on both sides of the shooting range during international events, including the Olympics, and our archers are not used to compete in front of a big crowd. In a way this Olympics can ease out the pressure from outside and benefit Deepika and all.”
Meanwhile, Tiwary, who has mentored both Deepika and Atanu during their formative years at Tata Archery Academy, Jamshedpur, feels the mixed-team event, which will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo, is India’s best bet for the elusive archery medal.
“It’s good that a mixed team event has been included in next year’s Olympics at Tokyo. The Indian mixed teams have won medals in World Cups on more than one occasion, and I am optimistic that they can come up with a similar show in the Olympics,” Tiwary had told earlier.
And the real-life pair of Deepika and Atanu is ready to bring home the honours on the back of the World Archery mixed-team gold secured in Paris.
An Arjuna Award winner for her outstanding achievement in sports, Deepika can make her name synonymous with the epic character of Mahabharata the award is named after, adding the crowning jewel in her already glittering trophy cabinet.
MARK YOUR DATES (involving Indians only)
VENUE: Yumenoshima Park Final Field
July 23
5:30 AM: Women’s Individual Qualification Rounds (Deepika Kumari)
9:30 AM: Men’s Individual Qualification Rounds (Atanu Das, Pravin Jadhav, Tarundeep Rai)
July 24
6:00 AM: Mixed Team Eliminations (Atanu Das, Deepika Kumari)
12:55 PM: Mixed Team Medal Matches
July 26
6:00 AM: Men’s Team Eliminations (Atanu Das, Pravin Jadhav, Tarundeep Rai)
12:45PM: Men’s Team Medal Matches
July 27 to 30
6:00 AM: Women’s Individual Eliminations (Deepika Kumari)
July 30
1:00 PM: Women’s Individual Medal Matches
July 27 to 31
6:00 AM: Men’s Individual Eliminations (Atanu Das, Pravin Jadhav, Tarundeep Rai)
July 31
1:00 PM: Men’s Individual Medal Matches

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