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A prolific return in the circuit for Deepika Kumari: Paris next target

Former world no.1, Indian recurve archer Deepika Kumari made a highly impressive comeback in the international circuit.

Indian Archer Deepika Kumari

Deepika Kumari (Source: World Archery)


Deepanshu Jain

Published: 28 Feb 2024 7:11 AM GMT

The renowned Indian recurve archer and former world number one, Deepika Kumari, made a highly impressive comeback in the international circuit, clinching two gold medals at her first international tournament after the hiatus.

She secured the individual title in women's recurve, outscoring compatriot Simranjeet Kaur in the final, and also contributed to her team's victory in the women's recurve team event at the Archery Asia Cup.

Deepika, returning to the international circuit after a prolonged break, quickly adapted to the field, scoring a total of 657 in the ranking round despite challenging weather conditions with high wind speeds.

Reflecting on her comeback, Deepika said, "It was a good feeling to win the gold medal, and the tournament overall was positive, but in terms of my expectations, I believe I could have performed slightly better. I need to further develop myself if I aim to win a major tournament in the coming months."

Deepika's remarkable performance propelled her up the world rankings, jumping an impressive 405 places to reach 145, while Simranjeet also saw a significant rise, climbing nearly 50 places to 54th position. Deepika maintained the highest average score of 28 in the knockout rounds to secure her gold medal.

Meanwhile, it took her one and a half years to return to the international circuit and regain her rhythm after taking a break due to pregnancy; she gave birth to a baby girl in December 2022.

Returning to action has been challenging for Deepika as she meticulously planned her comeback, initially participating in the National Games Goa to gain match practice.

Deepika herself admitted, "It is very difficult, honestly," to make a comeback to the sport while also caring for her young daughter."

Target Paris Olympics

Deepika has her sights set on securing her fourth consecutive appearance at the Olympics this year. Over the past 14 years, she has been an integral part of the Indian women's recurve archery team.

In the previous Olympic Games, she displayed exceptional performance and came tantalizingly close to securing a medal. Unfortunately, she fell short in the quarterfinals to eventual gold medalist An San of Korea. Nonetheless, this marked a significant achievement as it was the first quarterfinal finish for an Indian archer in quite some time.

During her absence, Indian women's archery faced challenges, but her return to the sport has injected new life into the team and reignited hopes among fans across India.

India is yet to secure a quota place for the Paris Olympics in women's archery. The upcoming final qualifying tournament presents an opportunity, and Deepika's continued progress could significantly bolster India's chances of securing a team quota.

Despite missing out on a team quota at the last Olympics, the women's recurve team is well-positioned for qualification this time around. Their consistent performances at the Asian level last year indicate their potential, and now they aim to replicate that success at the world level.

"I am targeting the 2024 Paris Olympics as time is running short. After the 2021 Olympics, a significant break came into my life," exclaimed Deepika, highlighting her immediate goal.

The pressing question remains: can Deepika sustain her current momentum, further refine her skills, and reclaim her prime form to once again challenge the world's best?

Whether this comeback serves as a new beginning or a conclusion to her career, only time will tell. However, one thing is certain: Deepika will give her utmost effort to ensure that her return to the sport is a triumphant one.

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