The 26-year-old is one of India’s brightest medal prospects.
India’s greatest-ever female archer Deepika Kumari has an enviable collection. Winning the gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the women’s individual recurve event at just 15 was no mean feat. She was, self-admittedly, enjoying the games in 2010. She had also won a gold medal in the same competition in the women’s team recurve event.
“I didn’t know anything at that time as I was so young. I was just enjoying the Games. If I win, if I lose, it didn’t matter for me I wish (I could go back to that), but in a different way. With my (current) experience, with my control,” she had said earlier this year.
The Indian archer has won 31 Archery World Cup medals since her unbelievable debut, and also became the World No. 1 in recurve archery in 2012. She is clearly an inspiration to the entire nation, but her crown is bereft of one feather – a podium at the Olympics.
Deepika Kumari exited the London Olympics in the first round in both individual and team events and at Rio in 2016, she made a last-16 exit in the individual section and lost to Russia in the quarterfinals in the recurve event. However, it seems the ace archer has plans to do things differently for Tokyo 2021.
“The upcoming Olympics will be different for me. I’m learning how to control my thoughts. At the same time, I’m performing better,” she told World Archery ahead of the first stage of the World Cup in Guatemala City earlier this year. She won gold at the individual event, and another with Ankita Bhagat and Komalika Bari at the recurve.
Focus on Mental health
Mugdha Bavare, a Sports psychologist associated with Olympic Gold Quest, has helped the athlete regularly with the mental aspect of preparation and more. “She has taught me everything because I am still a child in mental training,” said Deepika Kumari.
Her humble roots help keep her feet to the ground and continue working hard. She started training as a 13-year-old in Saraikela, Kharswan in Jharkhand. She trained there for a year and then went to join the J.R.D. Tata Sports Complex, where she continues to train to date.
The contrasting mental differences, as she herself has highlighted, could be the barrier between her and the podium at Olympics. She has been working diligently to raise up the mental aspect of her game, which could help her go all the way. Her performances have always been top-notch at the World Archery events, and with two more phases of the World Cup remaining, she has all the right training scheduled for her. 2021 could be her year.
The second phase of the World Cup is being held currently in Lausanne and will end on 23 May. However, the Indian team’s trip to Switzerland was called off after the Swiss Embassy’s refused to issue short-term visas, due to the restrictions put on travelers from India. These restrictions were put in place on the back of the second wave of COVID-19, which has hurt India’s chances of apt preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.