India Today - - SPORTS -

HER STORY Shoot­ing stones at man­goes as a child, Deepika Ku­mari, who grew up in Jhark­hand’s Ratu Chati vil­lage, about 15 km from Ranchi, de­cided to pur­sue sport at a young age. Her fa­ther Shiv­narayan Ma­hato, an auto- rick­shaw driver, sup­ported her de­spite his lim­ited means. In 2005, he bor­rowed a mo­torcy- cle to take her for tri­als at the Ar­jun Archery Academy, Khar­sawa. The ef­fort paid off when she clinched gold and be­came the talk­ing point of the 2010 Com­mon­wealth Games in Delhi. Deepika edged out Lee Sung Jin, the 2004 Athens Olympics gold medal­list, in the fi­nal of this year’s World Cup in An­talya, Tur­key. Coached by Poorn­ima Ma­hato at the Tata Archery Academy in Jamshed­pur, she fol­lows an eight- hour prac­tice ses­sion daily, cou­pled with men­tal exer-

“In­dia has a very strong archery team this time. But the Olympics is ev­ery coun­try’s goal. We aren’t the only ones with an im­proved team. Apart from Korea and China, we are ex­pect­ing newer and fiercer com­peti­tors.”

cises. In her free time, she tunes into songs by her favourite artist, Shaan.

VAN­TAGE POINT Ku­mari never looks at the score­board, so doesn’t feel the pres­sure of tum­bling in the ini­tial rounds.

CHAL­LENGE AHEAD A re­cent ill­ness has made her weak and re­duced her abil­ity to shoot against the wind.

OLYMPIC RUN- UP She earned two golds at the 2010 Com­mon­wealth Games in the in­di­vid­ual and the re­curve team event. Later that year, she part­nered Rimil Buri­uly and Dola Banerjee to earn a podium fin­ish at the Asian Games. This year’s World Cup vic­tory has bumped her up to the World No. 1 spot.

SU­BIR HAL­DAR/ www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

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