Sports

Deepika Kumari carries the hopes of a billion people

Saba Nayakan Kolkata | Updated on July 15, 2012 Published on July 15, 2012

It is not easy to carry the hopes of a billion in search of an elusive Olympic medal. Archer Deepika Kumari is in such an enviable position as the contingent prepares to leave for London.

She is just 18, has a very healthy bank balance, has just landed a job of a manager in the sports department of Tata Steel, was twice the World Champion in cadet and junior section, and is the best woman archer in India. Of course, there are many more achievements to write about.

For the archery fraternity, she is a super woman who can possibly do anything on the field when she takes aim at the target. Even for Deepika, the nation’s hope of an Olympic gold medal could be a distant dream.

Daughter of an auto-rickshaw driver near Ranchi in Jharkhand, Deepika’s rise was meteoric. Her journey from Arjun Academy to Tata Academy was spectacular. Having got the best facilities and support from the company, the petite teenager stormed a bastion only a few could dream of.

She became the first archer in the country to capture the sub-junior, junior and senior National titles in the same year. She went to Ogden (Utah) in the US and became India’s first archery World Champion in cadet section (under-16) in 2009.

The next year, she captured her first senior international crown by winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal defeating five-time Olympian Alison Williamson of Great Britain.

A star is born

Deepika arrived truly into the world of archery and became an integral part of the Indian women’s re-curve bow team which won a number of medals. With the fading away of then country’s leading lady archer, Dola Banerjee, Deepika stepped seamlessly into the vacuum to lead the side with great aplomb.

The Indian women’s team struck it rich by becoming the silver medallist at the World Championship at Turin in Italy in 2011 and the same year in August, Deepika emerged the Junior World Champion (under-18). Thus she became the first Indian to win two World Titles in succession.

As Deepika grew in confidence and stature, more success followed. She won the Antalya World Cup and qualified for the World Cup finals at Istanbul where she beat a quality field to become the champion, the second Indian to do so after Dola Banerjee achieved the feat in 2007 at Dubai.

That Deepika lived up to the early promise was owing to her sacrifice of highest level, dedication and hard work. Her coaches vouch for her discipline and focus which has brought her to this level. The sport has given her social security, recognition and above all the love of her compatriots.

Being a confident person, this Jharkhand lady has her feet firmly on the ground.

“I am looking forward to the Olympics. I cannot wait for the action to begin,” was her reaction before leaving for Delhi on Saturday.

It is indeed unrealistic to expect a gold medal from this talented lady. She did admit that the expectation of a medal from her fellow citizens was weighing heavily on her mind. This being her first Olympic Games, Deepika should not worry about the medal when she steps on to the line on July 27 .

She needs to perform to the best of her ability. The results and the medal will follow automatically. Even if she fails to make an impression in these Games, Deepika will have four more years to plan for her Olympic medal. By then, she will be ready both physically and mentally.

>sabanayakan.s@thehindu.co.in

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Published on July 15, 2012
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