Deepika Kumari will partner Pravin Jadhav in the archery mixed team event of the Olympic Games after the debutant was chosen by the Indian think-tank ahead of her husband and more experienced Atanu Das based on form shown in Friday’s ranking round.
The mixed pair competition, which will make its Games debut in Tokyo on Saturday, is seen as India’s best medal hope in archery where the country is yet to win an Olympic medal.
Based on the combined scores of Jadhav and Deepika Kumari, who finished ninth earlier in the day, India secured a similar ninth place ranking for the mixed pair competition. India had the option to send entries of Das and Deepika, who recently won a gold medal together at the Paris World Cup, but the federation went ahead with Jadhav.
“Simply put, we picked Jadhav based on his current form, it’s no rocket science,” Archery Association of India official Virendra Sachdeva, who is accompanying the team in Tokyo, told PTI.
Das and Deepika, who tied the knot last year, are the first Indian couple to take part in the same discipline in an Olympic Games.
“We could have also chosen Rai being the most experienced. We decided to give Jadhav the opportunity based on his performance in the ranking round.”
In all likelihood, India would run into top seed Korea in the quarters after overcoming eighth-ranked Kazakhstan.
“Jadhav is a new talent, while Deepika has got the experience. Hopefully they will do well together. Despite tremendous pressure, the players are trying to give their best,” he said.
There was disappointment in store in the men’s individual ranking round at the Yumenoshima Park as the Indian trio of Das, Jadhav and veteran Tarundeep Rai finished in the bottom-half. Jadhav was the best among the Indians with 656 points for a 31st place finish, three points ahead of India No 1 Das, while Rai, in his third Olympics appearance, took the 37th spot among 64 archers.
The entries for mixed pair are submitted within 45 minutes of the conclusion of individual events.
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