Deepika: Indian archers will do better than Incheon

Recovering from a bout of fever ahead of the Asian Games, the World No. 7 is nevertheless “confident of a good show.”

Deepika Kumari...“I’m beginning to find my rhythm and it has really boosted my confidence for the Asian Games.”   -  PTI

India’s Deepika Kumari is “confident of a good show” at the Asian Games and expects better returns from her team than in 2014, when it had returned empty handed. Downfever for five days ahead of the marquee event, the former World No. 1 has not had the most positive build-up to the Games.

The ill-health forced a postponement of her departure; the rest of India’s archery contingent left for Jakarta on August 14 without her. “There’s still weakness and I’m on multi-vitamins. But I’m confident of a good show,” World No. 7 Deepika told PTI from New Delhi, ahead of her departure for the Games.

The fever may have hampered her practice but Deepika is buoyed by a World Cup gold medal win in Salt Lake City in June this year — her first individual World Cup gold since 2012. “I’m beginning to find my rhythm and it has really boosted my confidence for the Asian Games,” she said. “It’s difficult to predict the number of medals but I can say that we would do better than Incheon and return with medals this time.”

‘Free mind’

India had won four medals — including one gold — at the Incheon Games, all of them garned by the compound section participants. The women’s team had lost the bronze medal playoff to China. “There’s no point talking about the past. We have to shoot with a free mind now. There’s definitely a bit of pressure but it’s about looking at what’s in store,” Deepika, who has a team bronze from Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010 in her kitty, said.

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The recurve section will have an added incentive at the Games with the addition of mixed pair event; it signifies a medal prospect for India. “We have been doing well in the mixed pair events. It’s about putting our best together on the given day,” Deepika said.

India has never won a gold medal in the recurve section of the Asian Games, something the non-Olympic compound archers had gained in the team event at Incheon in 2014. “Everyone competes to win gold. I can’t say we will return with a gold. But if everything goes off well, you never know,” Deepika said.

Lacking luck

The yields have been dry in the recurve section for India since 2010. The men’s recurve team have encountered an especially sharp slide. Before 2010, the team had won five World Cup golds from 2008-10 on the way to becoming the World No. 1 in September, 2010. As the medals dried up, however, it slipped to No. 12 in the rankings, and the Archery Association of India is finding it difficult to find a set combination.

“It’s seems our luck is not going on our way. There have been several factors. The juniors are coming in, we need some time for them to get experience,” Deepika said. “It’s not that we lack talented archers. But we have to give them some time.”

Deepika, a three-time World Cup Final silver medallist, has once again qualified for the coveted year-ending Final scheduled in Samsun, Turkey in September this year. “Yes, I’ve lost the gold medal thrice. It’s painful but at the moment my focus is on the Asian Games,” she concluded.