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"Need to be mentally tough to win": Interview with Indian Olympic archer Deepika Kumari

Kumari, pictured at the World Archery Championships, aims for a medal at Rio 2016

Deepika Kumari Indian Archer
Kumari, pictured at the World Archery Championships, aims for a medal at Rio 2016

Indian archer Deepika Kumari is putting in all the hard yards in pursuit of winning an elusive medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and is a product of the Tata Archery Academy, which has played a pivotal role in shaping up her archery career.

Kumari, who missed out on a podium finish at the 2012 London Olympics, is more determined than ever before to stand on the podium in Rio.

She spoke to Sportskeeda about her medal aspirations at the 2015 Archery World Cup and her preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympics in an exclusive interview.


Excerpts:

Indian women have earned three quota places in the individual recurve event of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Are you certain of representing the country at the 2016 Olympics?

It is true that our women archers have bagged three quota places in the recurve event of the 2016 Rio Olympics, but all our women archers will be slugging it out in various selection trials to be held early next year before we know, who will represent India in the recurve event at Rio.


You had a fairly productive 2015 winning a medal at the Archery World Cup. How would you assess your overall performance in 2015?

There were disappointments at times but overall I’m pretty chuffed with my performance. My bronze medal in the Archery World Cup was hugely satisfying.


You have the experience of playing at the 2012 London Olympics under your belt. As you gear up to make your second Olympic appearance in Rio, do you think the London experience will stand you in good stead?

Absolutely! Obviously playing in the Olympics is a big thing, and I’m sure I will be richer with the experience when I go to the archery range in Rio.

Tell us a bit about the challenges of playing abroad as compared to playing in India.

In India, it really does not matter whether we are playing in summer or winter. But when we play in foreign countries, the weather is a big factor. Sometimes we continue playing even if it is raining heavily. At times, the strong wind can also affect our performance.


You came from a financial disadvantaged family – you parents slogged a lot to support your archery career.

Yeah, my parents has done a lot to support my archery passion. They want me to win an Olympic medal, which I hope to attain in Rio.


Your archery career really took shape when you joined the Tata Archery Academy. How much of your success you owe it to them?

I owe everything to the Tata Archery Academy. Without their support I would have not been able to achieve whatever I have done for the country so far.


Indian archers have been consistently winning medals in World Championships but do you think an Olympic medal is a must for the future of Indian archery?

Indian archery needs a medal-winning performance at the Olympics – if we can win an Olympic medal the sport will get more respect in the country and more youngsters will take up archery.


Every archer looks to improve all the time. What is that one thing you would like to work on?

I think I’m mentally weak – I need to work on my mental toughness.


There was a feeling that you like to stay away from the media. Your thoughts.

To be honest, I’m not comfortable handling the media. It’s not that I don’t like to talk to the media but it is just that I’m not at ease with the press.


Finally, how realistic are you about winning a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics?

It will be tough for sure. We competed among top 100 nations to qualify for the Olympics, where top archers from 16 nations are going to take part. The competition will be fierce and I have to give my best shot in Rio and land a medal for my country.

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