After winning three gold medals at the Global Cup Stage 3 in Paris, the 27-year-old from Ranchi reclaimed her status as world No. 1.
New Delhi: A 12-year-old tribal girl from Ratu village in Jharkhand, 15 kilometers from Ranchi, knew nothing about archery as a sport, but the possibility of free meals was too tempting to pass up. As a result, she enrolled at a Seraikela academy, where she begged that the management allow her three months to perform before abandoning her. She was chosen by the Tata Archery Academy in Jamshedpur a year later.
After a hat-trick of gold medals in women’s individual, women’s team, and the mixed team at the World Cup Stage 3 in Paris on Sunday, Deepika Kumari has reclaimed her status as world number one, a feat she last accomplished in 2012.
The 27-year-old, together with Ankita Bhakat and Komalika Bari, earned the gold medal in a convincing victory over Mexico. She then defeated Sjef van den Berg and Gabriela Schloesser of the Netherlands in the mixed doubles division with her spouse Atanu Das. Finally, she defeated world number 17 Elena Osipova of Russia to complete the hat-trick.
Hemant Soren, the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, congratulated the archer on Twitter.
“I’d want to congratulate her; she’s worked really hard. We are really pleased with what she has accomplished. Kumari’s father, Shiv Narain Mahto, stated, “Atanu Das and Deepika won in the mixed recurve event as well, so it’s a really gratifying occasion for us.”
No dream is too big
Kumari, who was world number one at the time, won two Commonwealth Games gold medals and equaled the world record in 2016.
She began competing professionally in 2006 and has since won 12 silver and seven bronze medals at the World Cup. She competed in the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she was eliminated in the first round and quarter-final, respectively. She also took home two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and another in the Asian Archery Championships in 2013.
In 2012, she received the Arjuna Award, and in 2016, she received the Padma Shri. On June 30, 2020, she married fellow ace archer Atanu Das.
Her path, on the other hand, has been turbulent. Kumari Mahato was born on June 13, 1994, to Shiv Narain Mahato, an autorickshaw driver, and Geeta Mahato, a nurse. Her first experience with aiming and shooting was with mangoes and stones. But, until she entered Tata Academy, her family’s financial situation stood in the way of her aspirations.
“It’s important not to forget what one has gone through in the past. I still have that car and drive it, but I look at it through the lens of my job. I’m quite pleased where I’m at; my children advise me not to drive a car, but I enjoy it; it’s just my job. We shall be eternally grateful to Arjun Munda (President of Archery Association) for his unwavering support.
Kumari’s father was supportive of her taking up a sport, although he had reservations about her living away from home at such a young age. She persevered, though. “Please release me. She urged her father over and over, “I want to do this,” until he eventually gave in.
Her mother, on the other hand, has always been there for her. “When the national anthem plays on the podium in an international competition, I think of her. In a 2018 interview, Kumari stated, “I thought of her while I was getting the Padma Shri award and swelled with joy.”
‘Archery chose me, not the other way around.’
Kumari feels that her experience has paved the door for many young girls in her area to attend a sports academy.
“I didn’t choose archery; it chose me. “All I remember is stepping into a tribal sports academy, and the next thing I know, I’m being handed a bamboo bow and arrow,” Kumari said.
Ladies First, a Netflix documentary by first-time director Uraaz Bahl, covers her preparation and origin story in the run-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics. “Why don’t they say ‘ladies first’ in education and sports?” Kumari wonders, resulting in the film’s title.
Kumari’s path and unprecedented victory are both inspiring.
“Whatever happens before and after the Olympics, she is one of India’s greatest athletes. Our sporty lense, however, only comes into focus for the Olympics. People would identify her name with two failures rather than her numerous successes,” former cricketer Snehal Pradhan
She said, “Deepika has flourished against the system, not because of it,” highlighting the need for a mechanism to assist tap into the rural talent and the necessity for an identifying procedure. Despite the system, some of our finest athletes have been discovered, especially in rural regions. The quantity of talent found outside of cities is astounding.
Her mother has great expectations for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Deepika’s mother stated, “I hope they both (Kumari and Das) have fantastic performances at the Tokyo Olympics; I am confident that they will return back with a gold.”