Shooting straight

R. SHIVAJIRAO

“We have to understand archery is not cricket where sponsors come easily. A player has to sacrifice a lot to come to the top,” says Deepika Kumari (in pic) in a chat with K. Keerthivasan.

It isn’t easy to pin down Deepika Kumari for an interview. After her mixed team event in the National Championships in Chennai recently, where she along with Jayanta Talukdar won a bronze medal, Deepika agreed to an interview, only to cut short the session and make a hasty exit. “Sorry, sorry, I have to go,” she said before walking across to join her fellow archers.

It was only after the media co-ordinator intervened the following day that the World No. 2 archer in recurve agreed to talk to the media.

“Please ask questions quickly,” Deepika said.

Was the National Championships difficult for her with the wind blowing from the Open Anna University ground?

“Playing in the Nationals is no different,” she said without showing any emotion. “It’s the same everywhere. You have to concentrate and shoot your arrows.”

Indian archers, according to Deepika, are not inferior to the best of archers from South Korea. “Our mental make-up is different, training is different. There is a lot of difference in our physical and mental capabilities,” she said.

On her poor performance in the London Olympics, where she lost to Amy Oliver of Great Britain in the opening round, Deepika said she was nervous just as the other Indian archers were on the biggest stage of world sport. “It happens. We were a bit overawed by the Lord’s ground (the venue). We didn’t have much practice before the Olympics. Yes, we were a bit nervous,” she said.

Deepika said that the gold medal she won in the World Cup in Turkey in May 2012 was her most memorable moment. “It was very nice. I still remember the way I played. I was at my best,” she reminisced.

The growth of archery in India in the last decade is something to be proud of, said the archer from Ranchi. “Lots of girls have come up; it’s nice to see them grow and become successful archers. There will, however, be ups and downs in an archer’s career. One has to deal with it,” said Deepika. The archer’s next major event is the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

When asked about the Sports Ministry de-recognising the Archery Association of India (AAI), Deepika said the decision took everyone by surprise. “It was a shock. Archery had been on an upward curve. Now we are facing a tough situation. We are all concerned. This is India and I am sure a solution will emerge,” she said.

Deepika is of the view that the Archery Players Association of India (APAI) is of great relevance today. “We have to understand archery is not cricket where sponsors come easily. A player has to sacrifice a lot to come to the top. From the club level to the international level, there are plenty of hurdles,” she said.

The purpose of starting the Association, according to Deepika, is to create an atmosphere of goodwill and camaraderie among the archers. “We want the young and upcoming archers to get the benefits. They should not face the problems we faced. There are issues such as lack of equipment and proper ground to practise and lack of good coaches.”