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Home > Sports News > Other Sports News > Article > From birth to rebirth how World No 2 Deepika is mastering the juggling act of motherhood

From birth to rebirth, how World No. 2 Deepika is mastering the juggling act of motherhood

Updated on: 15 May,2023 04:42 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Srijanee Majumdar |

Mid-day caught up with India’s most decorated archer Deepika Kumari in a freewheeling conversation about juggling motherhood and training

From birth to rebirth, how World No. 2 Deepika is mastering the juggling act of motherhood

Deepika in action (L), with husband Atanu (R), Pic Courtesy: @theatanudas/Instagram/AFP

New mother Deepika paused our conversation for a good reason. “Ek minute hold kijiye (hold on for a minute)”, she told me on the spur of the moment and was back in less than two minutes. I smiled, chortled, and bantered throughout our ten-minute-long phone call as she talked about her demanding schedule, getting back on her feet after 'almost 15 months', looking after the family, and switching back into 'mom gear' every so often. 

Her voice was filled with ambition and a bit of trepidation as she figured out loud how she will meet her own expectations. She laughed again, then paused as she sorted the next part of her day, and I could almost hear her sigh as she planned for the day’s lunch, laundry, and a second to squeeze in a little downtime with her five-month-old daughter, tucking her in for another nap. All before she shifts back into training mode when the house is quiet.

Sensing time and again the familiar frustration that comes from the tug and pull of being an athlete-mother who happens to be nurturing a family and career simultaneously, I queried whether she found her ‘new’ tasks abnormally strenuous. “Bahut hi acha experience hai (Motherhood is a lovely experience)”, pat came the reply. 

The World No. 2 trained until seven months into her pregnancy before taking a break to look after her rapidly growing baby. She gave birth in early December and was back on the range before this new year.

“Life has taken a 360-degree turn lately. (bursts out in laughter) It is very difficult to manage everything. Family, ground, baby, me time...I sometimes become very lazy. (giggles) Main kya kya karu! Slowly and gradually, it’s getting better. But I’m enjoying this stage of my life,” she continued. 

Also Read: Deepika falters, husband Das returns after year; compound star Verma out of top-4

Deepika explained how often she felt she was divvying up the hours to get all her chores done, and sometimes it seemed that everything suffered a little because of it. Perhaps that did happen here and there, but the idea that what she has been doing as a mom and an athlete was worth doing at all kept her striving to do her best, she later remarked.

Even as the acceptance and support for Olympian moms have grown, one issue that can never be fully solved, perhaps because it is an emotional as opposed to a material concern, is the internal tug-of-war between career and family. In the case of Olympians, whose prime years as athletes overlap almost exactly with their prime years as child-bearers, the difficult choices and painful sacrifices are perhaps doubly so.

“I am not able to practice so often now as I have to take care of my daughter. Actually, I wanted to stay at home for three months only to spend time with her. Otherwise, she doesn’t even recognise me as of now. (laughs) I go for practice in the morning, spend two hours on the ground, and get back home. I do my strength training in the evening. At times, I am in a lot of pain as my body has undergone several changes after childbirth. I take rest accordingly. I have also gained too much pregnancy weight in these few months. (laughs)”, she added. 

For every athlete-mother besides Deepika, getting back to the ground means taking things slowly, and learning how to balance the responsibilities of motherhood and their sports. Pregnancy takes a heavy toll on the body and there are often traumatic effects of childbirth that simply cannot be planned for. The pressure to return to their previous standard of play is immense and to make things even trickier, they have a whole group of often younger, fitter players breathing down their neck and vying for their position.

“There are several changes in the body during this time. I have resumed training after almost 15 months, so it will take some time to get things back to normal. The muscles have become weak. Initially, I could not take a single attempt, but things are getting better with each passing day. I am finally able to do ten pushups or 20 crunches now (laughs),” said the 2010 Commonwealth Games champion, who is rushing to return to form.

It is often said that it takes an army to get things done in this world. And while we have so often talked about the women behind the men, it is high time that women were the ones in the spotlight, as leaders or all-round 'getting it done' legends. So while women like Deepika have been making waves, putting their extreme smarts to important use, we can spare a small moment to applaud the spouses who have taken on the supporting roles in a perfect manner. 

“Atanu (husband and fellow Olympian) is very caring. He is different in every role. I see two different Atanus on the ground and at home. He is very family-oriented as well. Yes, he is the full package. (laughs) And he has always been supportive of me,” said Deepika.

Also Read: Compound archers make clean sweep; power India to top with 14 medals

The pair missed out on a fairytale mixed team outcome at Tokyo 2020 when Pravin Jadhav qualified higher and replaced Das, with the pair eventually finishing sixth.

“He has not had too much time with the baby yet. Bechara! (Poor fellow) He comes home for five days, then goes back. This is how it has been so far. Now, the question about how he will be as a father can only be answered by my daughter after she grows up (laughs),” she added.

Now what, ultimately, is the biggest factor for women athletes with children in reaching the winner's podium again? It may in fact be psychological. As experts put it, they may feel more relaxed and confident now, because their sport is no longer the only focus of their life. They win because they are not afraid to fail.

Do you hear Deepika?!

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