Tokyo Olympics: Atanu Das and Deepika Kumar open up about medal dreams (SAI Photo)
For Deepika Kumari, past experiences are a treasure trove of valuable lessons. She might have missed the opportunity to finish on the podium in her previous two Olympic appearances despite having been in peak form in the lead-up to the Games but the 27-year-old is equipped with those lessons as she prepares for the Tokyo Olympics.
Deepika Kumar will head into the Games as the World No. 1 Womens Recurve Archer and she has grown to understand the art of dealing with pressure. Deepika is heading into the Games having risen to the numero uno spot.
Having resumed competition following lockdowns in 2020, the year in which the Games were postponed, Deepika has been in peak form. The Indian archer won the individual gold medals at World Cup Stage 1 in Guatemala City and World Cup Stage 3 in Paris. She combined with her partner Atanu Das and shot the Mixed event gold in Paris apart from winning the gold in the womens team event.
Deepika was a teenager when she headed to the London Games as the top-ranked archer but she crashed out in the first round. At the Rio Games in 2016, Deepika suffered a 3rd-round exit but the Indian archer is looking forward to better and bigger things at the upcoming spectacle in Tokyo.
"I have learned a lot from the last two Olympics and past competitions. I am working a lot on my mental side of the game, even now. I have gained a lot of confidence," Deepika Kumar told Sports Today days ahead of her departure to Tokyo.
"I am getting a lot of motivation from winning competitions. I get a feeling that all my efforts are bearing results. But, as usual, each competition is different from one another."
"And only I can deal with that pressure, I think about myself at that moment and think about what I have to do at the moment. Nothing else matters. Only my target is visible at that time," she added.
Dreaming with our eyes open
Atanu Das, ranked No. 9 in the World, stormed back to form as he returned to competitive action in April, winning the gold in Guatemala City World Cup Stage 1. A lot is expected of the experienced shooter who will be hoping to make a mark in the individual event. One of Indias strong hopes for a podium finish comes from the mixed event where Atanu and Deepika will join forces.
The power couple is excited with the recent results but understands that the Games will be a step up where top athletes from across the globe will be gunning for glory.
"Obviously, we are dreaming. But we are also envisioning the route to achieving that dream. We are heading there one step at a time," Deepika said.
"Dreaming of an Olympic medal but with my eyes open and not closed," Das added.