Ace woman archer and World No 3 Deepika Kumari might have succumbed to pressure at the London Olympics, but the 18-year-old Ranchi-born archer, who was taken by the Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) under their wing yesterday, now wants to gain back her lost confidence by training hard.
Excerpts from an interview:
How did you overcome the London Olympics disappointment?
I didn’t know how to react. It was difficult to forget, as I didn’t expect that I would perform so badly. I was also low on confidence after the tournament. It was difficult, but I prefer to forget it and surge ahead.
What are your expectations from OGQ?
Whatever I have achieved so far is without a mental conditioning coach. Even for important events like Olympics or World Championships, the national team never had the services of a psychologist. But things will change as OGQ are here to provide us with the best facilities. With Rio Games in mind, I can concentrate on my training and aim to do well there.
Do you think that the Indian team lags behind other countries in the mental conditioning department?
The men’s and women’s team both need mental conditioning badly as archery is a mental sport. A psychologist can play a crucial part if you are scared, feel the pressure and need to relax. But we have never had that privilege and that’s the most important thing the team doesn’t have right now.
Do you think your age gives you an advantage?
I was World No 1 as a teenager. With age on my side, I can look to participate in as many tournaments and gain a lot of experience. I am confident that I can play for another two or three Olympics.
How do you balance studies and sport?
I don’t get much time for studies as I’m practising and participating in tournaments. But I’m glad that I finally gave my Class 12th exams this year. I am aware that education is important and I cannot only relay on sport to feed me all my life. So I wish to complete my graduation from an open university soon.
Do you aim to regain the World No 1 spot?
Earlier, I used concentrate on winning a medal ahead of any competition. But now, I want to concentrate on getting my basics right and not think about the outcome. I am sure that in the long run I will get the desired results.
What is your aim in the future?
Right now, I want to do well in the World Cup stage 2 from June 10-16 in Antalya, Turkey. In the last Asian Games, I finished fourth. But I hope to better my performance in next year’s Asian Games. But I hope to make a mark in the Rio Games.
Do you think it’s time media and sponsors focus on sports other than cricket?
I feel that cricket is hogged enough limelight and it’s now time for sports like archery and hockey to gets its due credit. Media plays a huge role in promoting any sport and it’s time that sponsors also try to create new sporting icons.