Experienced Deepika Kumari admitted that the Indian contingent playing under the neutral flag in the Asian Championships in Bangkok was slightly nervous at the start of the day as an Olympic berth was at stake. They also had their eyes set on winning a team quota for Berlin, which will host the final Olympic qualifiers.
Kumari and left-handed Ankita Bhagat assured the Indian contignent of a quota place when both made it to the semi-finals of the women’s recurve event and the former bagged the gold medal by defeating her compatriot 6-0 in the final on Thursday.
Entering the brackets as the No 1 ranked woman, Kumari defeated Nur Afisa Abdul Halil of Malaysia 7-2, Zahra Nemati (Iran) 6-4 and local girl Narisara Khunhiranchaiyo 6-2 to enter the last four.
“We were a little bit nervous earlier in the day...there was too much wind as well. I just concentrated on my breathing and told myself to ‘just do it’. I’m feeling good right now,” she was quoted as saying by PTI after ending the day with a gold medal.
Kumari said she psyched herself up in the quarter-finals against Narisara by telling her fiance and teammate Atanu Das that she would shoot 28 points in the last round to win the match. She shot one better by hitting two perfect 10s and one nine to seal the issue.
“We wanted to give our best. Also I promised (mixed team partner and fiance) Atanu that I will shoot 28. He told me go and shoot. He understands my mind too and it turned out nicely.
“Now we hope to qualify a team berth from the Berlin stage of the World Cup next year,” she added. The Berlin stage of the 2020 World Cup is the last qualifying event in archery.
The Indian trio of Deepika, Ankita and Laishram Bombayala Devi competed under a neutral flag due to the current suspension of the Archery Association of India (AAI), which is in administrative turmoil at the moment.
India now have a team qualification in the bag for the Tokyo Olympics in the men’s section. They have also booked an individual quota in the women’s event.
“The whole team is very happy at least we won one quota. This tournament has been very good show for us,” she said, referring to their rich medal haul of one gold, two silver and four bronze medals in the Asian Archery Championships.
(With PTI inputs)
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