For her, a day without meal is alright but a day without training is certainly not. Deepika Kumari (born 13 June 1994) comes from a small city Ranchi, having a humble family background with her father being an auto-rickshaw driver and mother nursing in Ranchi Medical College. She got her first breakthrough in archery when she entered the Arjun Archery Academy in 2005 but it was in 2006 when her professional career began as she joined the Tata Archery Academy in Jamshedpur.
Archery may be her life now, but when Kumari took it up as a teenager, she only wished to decrease the burden on her family.
Little she knew, that one day her bow and arrows, her favorite toys will become her most lethal weapon. As a young girl, she used to practice archery by aiming for mangoes with stones. Despite facing financial problems, Deepika moved up in the archery world with shear hard work. Going against the tide, she not only became the top archer of India but also served as an inspiration to other sports persons.
The ace archer shone in home support as she grabbed gold in the individual and women’s team recurve event in the Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010 and won bronze at the 2012 Guangzhou Asian Games. Deepika proved her archery skills when she won consecutive silver medals in 2011, 2012 and 2013 editions of Archery World Cup which were held in Istanbul, Tokyo and Shanghai respectively. She also claimed silver in the women’s team recurve category in the World Championships in Torino (2011) and Copenhagen (2015). She has qualified for the Rio games in the same category along with Laxmi Rani Majhi and Rimil Buriuly.
Currently ranked sixth in the world, Deepika has been always hailed as raw talent having clinched numerous medals representing the nation and also climbing to the number one spot in the women’s recurve category.
Deepika Kumari created history recently when she equaled the world record score of 686/720 set by South Korean Ki Bo-bae at the first stage of the World Cup in Shanghai in April earlier this year.
But a day after achieving this feat, she made a shock exit in the quarterfinals at the hands of Maja Jager of Denmark. This has often been the case with her; the mental preparedness of this young archer has been questioned time and again. Deepika, then world number two was favorite to bring home at least one medal from London in 2012 but a nervous breakdown in front of a huge crowd accompanied with strong winds and rains cost her and India, a medal.
To make sure that the story is not repeated in Rio, the Archery Association of India (AAI) had roped in US-based sports psychologist Lorenzo Beltram in the month of February which according to Deepika has been a great help in relaxing her mind.
Keeping in mind her recent form, everyone is expecting her to get a medal at Rio. But the million dollar question arising is whether she will be able to maintain her mental robustness at such a big level and deliver her best. Only time will tell!