Archer Deepika Kumari Among India's Best Bets for Olympic Medal
Representing India as the lone female archer in Tokyo, Deepika Kumari will have her third shot at an Olympic medal.
Hawk-eyed archer Deepika Kumari was a constant feature as India bagged a hat-trick of golds in the women’s individual, women’s team, and mixed team events at the World Cup Stage 3 in Paris on Sunday.
The gold rush blazed off with the women's recurve team comprising Deepika, Ankita Bhakat and Komalika Bari making light work of Mexico. Pairing with her husband Atanu Das in the mixed doubles category, Deepika then proceeded to beat Netherlands’ Sjef van den Berg and Gabriela Schloesser.
Finally, she outclassed world number 17 Russian Elena Osipova to attain the golden treble, a booster shot of confidence in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics.
However, the display of brilliance won’t influence the qualification dynamic for the Summer Games as this tournament won’t be taken into account. The Indian women’s team had been blanked 6-0 by lower-ranked Colombia when it mattered as they missed the Olympic team qualification quota that was at stake in Paris on 20 June.
It meant Deepika was to represent India as the lone female archer in Japan, joining a full men's roster as they strive to win the country's first archery medal at the world's most prestigious sporting meet.
Deepika couldn’t bring her A-game to the table at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, although her stellar victory in the women’s recurve event at the Asian Archery Championships in Bangkok in 2019 offered her a third shot at an Olympic medal.
Interestingly, she was pitted against compatriot Ankita Bhakat who lost 6-0 in an all-Indian final.
Deepika Kumari Brimming With Confidence
A product of the Tata Archery Academy in Jamshedpur, Deepika is hands down India's best recurve archer, and a former world number one. Currently ranked at three, she has won nine golds, 12 silvers, and seven bronze medals across World Cups. She is a two-time Commonwealth Gold medalist and a double World Championships silver medalist.
And if the recently-concluded Archery World Cup Stage 1 in Guatemala and the World Cup Stage 3 in Paris are anything to go by, Deepika's form seems to be peaking in good time.
Returning to the World Cup after two years, the Indian women's team came from behind to stun giants Mexico in the shoot-off for the gold, the women's team first medal since 2014. Deepika was the enabler-in-chief, hitting the bull’s eye to score a perfect 10 for the win in a summit clash that went down to the wire.
“It’s been a long time since I shot in the finals. It feels great and, at the same time, I’m happy and nervous. It gives me confidence and pushes me to give better performances,” she told World Archery, the governing body of the sport.
Forthwith, she passed the individual event with flying colors to bag another gold. Squaring off against Mackenzie Brown in the final, she led 3-1 before the American levelled proceedings. Deepika wasn’t at panic stations just yet as she rang in a wonderful 29 as the decisive arrow fetched up.
Brown’s 9 paled in comparison to her razor-sharp 10, lending the Indian virtuoso her third World Cup title.
Deepika Kumari is just 27 years old but has been the flagbearer of Indian archery for a long time now. She has age on her side besides the wealth of experience and a litany of medals, and is shooting with surgical precision and a zen-like focus. Given her rich vein of form, it is to state the obvious that she is one of India’s medal hopes at the Olympics.
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