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Jharkhand archer dreams of Olympic medal

Staff Reporter

Deepika Kumari knew this was meant to be her sport when she held the bow in her hand


Three years ago she realised her talent and picked up a bow for the first time

Her parents don’t have to pay anything for her sport as she gets a monthly stipend


— Photos: AFP & Manob Chowdhury

GOLD HUNT:Deepika Kumari takes aim at the women's recurve team archery finals during the Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi on Friday. India won its 15th gold medal of the Games in the event, beating England 207-206 in a thriller. (Right) Her father Shivnarayan Mahato, an autorickshaw driver and her mother Geeta, a nurse.

RANCHI (Jharkhand) : Deepika Kumari, national champion in archery and a gold medal winner in the Commonwealth Games radiates confidence. Today, modern archery may not require you to hit an apple perched on a person’s head or the eye of elusive birds, but it still demands unbreakable concentration.

She is the daughter of Shivnarayan Mahato, an auto-rickshaw driver and Geeta Mahato a nurse in the government hospital in Ranchi.

Deepika told The Hindu on Saturday that she has high hopes of an elusive Olympic medal in the sport where the greatest exponents of our country have won top awards.

The sport which she is dealing with is the kind of contest that the great Indian epics are littered with. It basically relies on the strength of one’s eyes, the power of your shoulders and the technique of the release of the arrow.

Three years ago, Deepika Kumari realised her talent and picked up a bow for the first time which produced a national champion in archery. She competes in recurve, a tough form of archery where the bow is without a lens and adjustable string length.

She won the gold medal in Turkey in 2009. Deepika’s epic win was the women’s gold medal at the 11th Youth World Archery Championships in the U.S. last year. She beat Russian Sayana Tsyrempilova 115-109 in the finals in a long, hard tournament. She also participated in Bangkok last year and won some trophies as well.

Deepika tried archery in school and the moment she started weighing the bow and the handmade bamboo arrows in her hands for the first time, she knew she was meant to be an archer, said her mother recalling her daughter’s words.

The owner of the Seraikela-Kharsawan Archery Academy, Meera Munda, wife of Jharkhand’s Chief Minister Arjun Munda, spotted her and admitted her into the academy. Later, she moved to the Tata Steel Sports Academy in Jamshedpur. Within months she was on the flight to Turkey, with the Indian team, where she won a gold medal.

Earlier Ms. Mahato, was not too pleased with Deepika taking up archery. “She was the first in the extended family to play any sport. I never supported her decision at the beginning. But now things have changed I feel proud of her,” she said.

“As a Class XI student, she has plenty of school work and Deepika never neglected that part of her life. She is an average student and does well in exams,” said Mr. Mahato.

Her parents don’t have to pay anything for her sport as she gets a monthly stipend of Rs. 6,000 from the Tata Archery Academy, which is enough for her they think. Her family received Rs. 1 lakh from the Jharkhand Archery Association and Rs. 50,000 from the Tata Academy.

“She has the ability to concentrate for long and this has helped her,” her parents said.

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