Born in a family where her father was an auto-rickshaw driver and her mother a nurse, Deepika Kumari’s decision to take up archery was motivated by her need to ease her parent’s burden.
When the aspiring archer came across the Tata Archery Academy that provided free practice, food, clothes and stay, she didn’t think twice before stepping in.
However, while playing numerous archery tournaments piqued Deepika Kumari’s interest in the sport over time, reaching the summit wasn’t one of her targets.
When the Ranchi athlete finally became the world number one in June 2012, four years into her career, she hardly had any clue about it.
“During that time, I only wanted to play competition and concentrate on my game,” Deepika Kumari said in the Double Trouble show on YouTube, hosted by Indian cricketers Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues.
Focussed on the Olympics, Deepika Kumari had won her first-ever World Cup individual recurve gold medal in May 2012 in Antalya.
But, the archer admitted that she had little idea of what that meant.
“I got to know after a call from the press. Later, I asked my coach what’s world no. 1 and then my coach explained,” she said.
Beyond just precision
Deepika Kumari was joined in the YouTube show by another former world no. 1 in precision sport – Apurvi Chandela.
And the two brought out the fundamental requirements that separate the sports of shooting and archery – where the athletes stand in a position and aim at the target in both disciplines.
“Archery is quite dynamic because one has so much of running around while shooting is quite static,” the 10m air rifle shooter said.
“A shooter needs stability and good muscle control, hence, all our exercises are towards building a stronger core.
“Basically, it has all to do with just being absolutely still and not letting any part of your body move,” Apurvi Chandela added.
Archery, on the other hand, runs longer than a shooting competition and Deepika Kumari pointed out the significance of having a strong lower body to stay in the game.
“Archery is very much different as we need a lot of strength. Hence, we do a lot of exercises for strength, especially leg exercise,” the archer said.
However, both the athletes agreed upon one important aspect that binds both shooters and archers - heartbeat.
“If you have pressure and your heartbeat starts going up it’s really dangerous because [the shot] can go out.
“It’s that fraction of a second in which you have to shoot between two heartbeats. I think that’s one thing which is common between the two,” Apurvi Chandela pointed out.