An Eye For The Bull’s-eye: Ratu To Rio
She is an ordinary girl, very ordinary, and rose to fame, making her story literally rags to riches... or I should say rags to Rio! Yes, she is Deepika Kumari who is competing in the Olympics currently. She performed well in the group archery competition, and has now entered the pre-quarters in the individual category. The achievements of this girl do not go unnoticed.
Deepika’s parents are an auto-rickshaw driver and a nurse. She is from Ratu, a village 15 kilometres from Ranchi. Deepika was fascinated with archery since childhood. When she was young, she would aim at the mangoes with stones. Soon, hitting the mangoes turned into a full-time passion for archery. As the family had financial constraints often, her parents were unable to get her bows and arrows for her training. But this did not dishearten Deepika, and she used homemade, bamboo arrows and bows for her practice. She got immense help from her cousin, Vidya Kumari, who was an archer at the Tata Archery Academy.
It was in 2005 that Deepika joined some formal training at the Arjun Archery Academy, but her career began in 2006 when she joined the Tata Archery Academy in Jamshedpur. Here, she was trained with a uniform and required equipment, along with a stipend of Rs 500 per month. This was the turning point in Deepika’s life, and there was no looking back for her.
In 2006, Deepika became the second Indian to win the title at the Archery World Cup, in Mexico. In 2009, when she was 15, she won the 11th Youth World Archery Championship, in the US. In the same championship, she won gold for the women’s team. Since then, Deepika has been giving her best and has never returned home empty-handed. Her then teammates were Bombayala Devi and Dola Banerjee. Bombayala and Deepika are a team again in the current Olympics in Rio.
The turning point of her life was the year 2012, when she won her first World Cup, at Antalya. She also competed in the Olympics 2012, but lost to Amy Oliver as she performed with high fever and in strong winds. Despite her loss in the Olympics, she went on to become Number 1 that year.
In the following year she won gold in the Archery World Cup, and India ranked fourth in the competition. By 2014, Deepika was featured by Forbes in their 30 under 30 list. In 2016, she was again in news as she equalled Korean archer Ki Bo-bae’s world record in women’s recurve at Shanghai.
Despite a poor performance in the team event, she is focussed and committed to bring out good results in the individual event. Her teammate Dola Bannerjee said, “Deepika is by far the hardest working Indian archer I’ve come across. Her biggest quality is that she can identify her own mistakes very fast and rectify them faster.”
Her determination has made India believe that she will come home with a medal in Rio. So while her performance in the individual event is still left, all we can do is cheer her and send her loads of luck and best wishes.
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