Archer Deepika Kumari's elusive Olympic medal hunt to end in Tokyo?
With two misses, archer Deepika Kumari once again stands a chance to claim the elusive Olympic medal when she goes to Tokyo in July 2021.
Who doesn't like a good, old-fashioned, fairytale-style inspiring narrative? It is where the protagonist fights the odds of trials and tribulation to emerge as the champion. Deepika Kumari's story is one such utmost honest account of punching above your weight and attaining glory.
India's most successful archer till date, Deepika's rise to the pinnacle of success is the stuff of legend. Deepika announced her arrival in style, winning two gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in individual and team events, which were being hosted in New Delhi. In the years that followed, Kumari quickly rose to the top. Winning medals in World Cups and World Championships, Kumari soon found herself in a spot no other Indian archer been before- World number one. Kumari carved out her own destiny with sheer determination and fought her way to the top and inspired many others to do so. The 26-year-old has been a part of every Women's Recurve medal India has ever won. With 31 world cup medals (stages and finals) under her belt, including six golds, 16 silvers and nine bronzes, the Jamshedpur athlete has been a true inspiration in her field of sport for the upcoming generation.
Despite being the best in business, the one dream that has always eluded Deepika was an Olympic medal. Her first outing at the Olympics was in London 2012, where she had crashed out of the first round of the women's individual event, bringing the curtain down on the country's hopes in the sport. The then World No.1 Deepika suffered an upset, going down to Amy Oliver of Great Britain by six points to two. She looked completely off colour, and was no match for her British rival at Lord's.
The match took place under thick overcast conditions and the cold did not seem to suit Deepika, who paid the price for some poor shots. Four years later, dreams took a toll once again when Deepika lost in Women's individual competition after losing to Chinese Taipei Tan Ya-ting by 0-6 in the Round of 16 at the Rio Olympics.
With two misses in two consecutive Olympics, Deepika once again stands a chance to claim the elusive medal when she goes to Tokyo in July 2021. Currently ranked number nine in the world, Deepika had secured an individual quota after winning the Gold medal finish at the Asian continental qualifier in Bangkok in November 2019. After the final selection trials (Trial 3) at the Army Insitute of Sports in Pune, a six-strong squad that has three male and an equal number of female archers was selected for the quadrennial extravaganza. Deepika finished at the top position in women's category.
Earlier in an interview with The Bridge, Deepika had shared that the deferred Olympics because of the Covid-19 would have the players better prepared for the Games. "I will always be ready. We are prepared for any condition as such. I am confident that after this break we will be leverage the time to accelerate our performances," Deepika had said. With just about four months before the games, she looks confident once again.
Deepika's chances of winning a medal in Tokyo
While Deepika Kumari has qualified in the individual event for the Olympics, she is also eligible to take part in the mixed team event as of now. The Indian women's recurve archery team, which includes Deepika, will take part in the qualifying event for the Olympics, and if the team is able to qualify, it will guarantee Deepika to take part in two archery events at the Tokyo Olympics - women's individual and women's team events. Following the women's team qualification in the Olympics, if Deepika emerges as the highest-scoring Indian woman archer in the ranking round (which has a high probability), she will also participate in the mixed team archery event alongside the highest-scoring male archer of India.
If we go by the statistics, Deepika's average arrow stands at 9.07 and a best ranking round score of 686. In her career, she has a win/loss tally of 131-51, which gives her a 72% winning rate. In 2019, the year she last took part in international competitions, her win/loss tally stood at 18-5, with a 78% winning rate.
If we compare her numbers with the best archers in the world, Deepika holds a fair chance against the odds.
|ARCHER||BEST RANKING ROUND SCORE||AVERAGE ARROW||CAREER WIN-LOSS||CAREER WIN PERCENTAGE||2019 WIN-LOSS||2019 WIN PERCENTAGE|
Tan Ya Ting
Sugimoto Tomomi (Japan)
In archery, the seeding and draw for elimination rounds in all 3 events - individual, team and mixed team - depends on an archer's individual score in the ranking round. We can see in the table above, Deepika's best ranking round score has been 686, which is better than all top 5 ranked archers except no. 1 archer, Chae Young of South Korea. Also, her winning percentage of 78 for 2019 is equal to or better than three archers in the top 5 of the world, which speaks volume about her current form.
In 2019, Deepika competed in her last tournament, the Asian Continental Qualification in Bangkok, where she had won an individual gold medal. Before that, she had won a silver medal in the 2019 Olympics test event in Tokyo, where she had won a silver, coming second to An San of Korea, who is probably the gold medal contender in the Tokyo Olympics. With numbers and age by her side, Deepika makes a super-strong contender for a medal in Tokyo Olympics, if not a gold medal finish.