Deepika Kumari: Securing Olympics archery spot is tougher now

Indian women’s archers still have one last chance to secure two quota places for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

By Utathya Nag ·

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Deepika Kumari feels the COVID-enforced changes to the world archery calendar has made Indian women archers’ bid to secure all three available quota places for next year’s Tokyo Olympics a lot tougher.

India can win a total of six quota places – three men’s and three women’s – in archery for Tokyo. The men’s quota places have already been secured courtesy Atanu Das, Tarundeep Rai and Pravin Jadhav’s silver medal run as part of the recurve team at the 2019 World Championships.

Deepika Kumari, meanwhile, is the only woman to have won a quota so far after winning the gold medal at the Asian Continental Qualification Tournament in Bangkok last year.

“Right now, we only have one quota spot in the women's category and only one qualifier is left to secure the two other quota places,” Deepika told Indian table tennis player Mudit Dani during a live chat on Instagram.

“Normally we always secure a full quota by this period, but it is different this time around,” the two-time world champion pointed out.

Deepika Kumari is the only Indian woman archer to have won a quota place for Tokyo Olympics.

Having missed the opportunity to clinch the quotas at the World Championships last June, the Indian women’s archers now have to bank on one final chance to secure more spots at the final Olympics qualification event set to be held from June 18 to 21 next year in Paris.

The final Olympics qualification tournament will be held just before the Paris stage of the 2021 Archery World Cup. It was initially scheduled to be held in Berlin in June 2020 but had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deepika Kumari feels the Indian women’s archers had worked hard ahead of the Berlin qualifiers and had a good chance to clinch the remaining two spots if the event had taken place as planned.

“I think we were in the zone. We were hungry to secure the remaining quotas and our practice was going really well,” she said.

“When the COVID lockdown happened, we were completely blank as qualifiers were in a month's time. Suddenly we had no idea what to do amongst all the uncertainties. It was tough to adjust," she said.

Deepika also admitted that the situation has adversely impacted everyone’s training regimen and it may take some time to get back to the form they were before the lockdown.

As it currently stands, with the solitary women’s quota secured by Deepika and the full men’s quota, India can participate in men’s team, men’s individual, women’s individual and mixed team recurve events at Tokyo.

However, at least one quota place needs to be secured in Paris for Indian representation in the women’s team event.