This is how a Rickshaw driver’s daughter Deepika Kumari made it to Rio Olympics
Jharkhand archer Deepika Kumari, who won her 1/64 and 1/32 contests in convincing fashion to book a place in the pre-quarters of the individual archery event at Rio 2016, has unwavering focus and determination which made her India’s hope for a medal in the ongoing games.
Deepika, currently ranked World No. 5, believes in her ability that passed through a tough time. Only few people know that Deepika (22) had once practised with home made bows and arrows aiming at the mangoes in the orchard near her home. This indicates her struggle and her passion that helped her to bag a gold medal in the 2010 Commonwealth games.
A former world number one, Deepika’s father Shivpujan Mahato still ferries passengers in his auto-rickshaw while his daughter carries hopes of a billion plus nation to bring Olympic medal.
It was in 2005, when Deepika insisted to pursue a career in archery. But her father, who used to earn Rs 1500 per month, couldn’t manage pay her tuition fees.
“They lived in a modest hut. The family took months to replace the khapras (broken tiles) on the roof. They could not afford a maid. When at home, Deepika helped her mother do the dishes and the laundry,” recalls her neighbour Sadhucharan Mahato.
Shivpujan took her 11-year-old daughter to then chief minister Arjun Munda’s wife Meera, who runs an archery academy in Kharsawan.
With her self-belief and determination, Deepika told Meera, “Just give me three months. And please throw me out if I don't perform.”
Later few years, she joined the Tata Archery Academy at Jamshedpur, which has churned out international archers by the dozen.
Tata Archery Academy was proved to be a perfect platform for Deepika where she laid her hands on proper equipments. She was also getting a stipend of Rs 500 to make her parent’s job easier.
The year 2012 has been proved a magnificent time for Deepika in which she won her first world cup individual gold in Antalya. But she was flopped at the London Olympics as she was shooting with fever and in strong wind in which she lost to Amy Oliver of Great Britain in the opening round.
Deepika also put up an excellent show as she comprehensively defeated Italy’s Sartori Guendalina 6-2 in the 1/16 elimination after prevailing over her opponent from Georgia, Kristine Esebua, 6-4 in the 1/32 elimination round.
The 22-year-old from Jharkhand, who had lost in the first round in London Games four years ago, came back strongly from a set down to register a dominating 24-27, 29-26, 28-26, 28-27 victory in the end.