As the curtain goes down on the archery event at the Asian Archery Championships in Bangkok, Deepika Kumari assures India its second 2020 Olympics quota in archery. Deepika was brilliant in the women’s recurve event as she brings home the gold medal. Top seed Deepika defeated sixth seeded and compatriot Ankita Bhakat 6-0 in an all-Indian final. As Deepika, India’s top-ranked woman archer, secured Olympic quota for Tokyo 2020, she will now be aiming to bury the disappointments from London and Rio Olympics.

On Thursday, the number one ranked Deepika put up a flawless show to defeat Nur Afisa Abdul Halil of Malaysia 7-2, Zahra Nemati (Iran) 6-4 and local girl Narisara Khunhiranchaiyo 6-2 to make the last four, thereby securing an Olympic quota. “We were a little bit nervous earlier in the day. There was too much wind also. I just concentrated on my breathing and told myself ‘just do it’. I’m feeling good right now,” Deepika said, TOIreported.

Interestingly, before the final round Deepika had promised her fiancé and team-mate Atanu that she will shoot a 28 but she did way better. “We wanted to give our best. Also, I promised Atanu that I will shoot 28. He told me go and shoot. He understands my mind too and it turned out nicely,” she said.

“Now we hope to qualify a team berth from the Berlin stage of the World Cup next year,” said Deepika referring to the fact that she has her eyes fixed on the Berlin stage of the 2020 World Cup which is the last qualifying event in archery

“The whole team is very happy at least we won one quota. This tournament has been very good show for us,” Deepika expressed.

India’s medal haul stands at one gold, two silvers and four bronzes in the Asian Archery Championships that concluded on Wednesday.

Key Takeaways:

  • Deepika Kumari and Ankita Bhakat won the gold and silver medals respectively in the women’s individual recurve event
  • Deepika says that she has her eyes fixed on the Berlin stage of the 2020 World Cup which is the last qualifying event in archery 
  • Both the archers had earlier secured an individual Olympic quota for the country by storming into the semifinals of the event

How archery happened

Coming from a humble background, a rickshaw driver’s daughter, Deepika remains to be the ace archer from Jharkhand, and is a big bet for bringing home a medal this year. The 22-year-old archer was born to Shivnath Mahato, an auto-rickshaw driver and her mother Geeta Mahato who works as a nurse. Deepika dreamt high and used to practice with homemade bows and arrows aiming at the mangoes in an orchard near her home. In pursuit of her dream, she had to spend a long time convincing her family about her passion for shooting. She got her first breakthrough back in 2005 when she managed to get admission into the Arjun Archery Academy, an institute which was set up by Meera Munda, the wife of the former Jharkhand Chief Minister, Arjun Munda.

The following year, she joined the Tata Archery Academy at Jamshedpur, which has produced many international archers. This was also the first time in her life she was exposed to proper archery equipment and uniforms along with a monthly stipend of Rs 500, making her parents’ job easier.

Career highlight

The moment of glory came when Deepika won the gold medal in the women’s individual recurve event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi. For this accomplishment, the archer was awarded ‘The Outstanding Performance at CWG (Female) Award’. In 2012, another high point was when she was No. 1 in world archery rankings, though her outing at the London Olympics that year did not fetch us medals. She added another feather in her cap by winning gold at the Archery World Cup in the individual recurve at Antalya in Turkey in 2012. The Arjuna Awardee just 100 days before the Rio Games 2016 shot a world record-equalling total in the women’s recurve event of the Archery World Cup in Shanghai. She received the Padma Shri in the same year.

Deepika became the second Indian archer to win the Cadet World Archery Championship title after Palton Hansda, back in 2009. At fifteen years of age, she won the 11th Youth World Archery Championship that was held in USA back in 2009.

“We were a little bit nervous earlier in the day. There was too much wind also. I just concentrated on my breathing and told myself ‘just do it’. I’m feeling good right now,”

Recent achievement

Deepika won her first individual gold in six years at the Salt Late World cup last year. To her credit, a two-time Olympian, Deepika already has four silver medals at the Archery World Cup stage.

Read More Stories By Ria Das

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