Happy with silver as Korean was better: Deepika Kumari

NEW DELHI: Pressure gets to the best of sportspersons and archer Deepika Kumari is no different. Delighted at winning a silver medal in the recurve category in the recently concluded Archery World Cup Final in Mexico City, Deepika also expressed disappointment at missing out on gold, a feat which has eluded her four times in the past in the season-ending event.

“You do feel bad about not winning the gold medal. The final match is always tough. Pressure will always be there. Fans ka, media ka. However, I am happy with the silver medal. Last year my confidence was pretty low and my performance was plain bad. So I have come a long way. Mental training helped a lot,” said Deepika, who lost 2-6 against the reigning world No.1 and top seed Choi Misun of South Korea in the final.

In order to help them cope with this pressure, Archery Association of India (AAI) has been providing archers with mental conditioning and training on a regular basis. “A mental conditioning coach and trainer is present with the team at all times. Lorenzo Beltram, a mental conditioning coach from the US, often comes here and trains our coaches and archers,” said an AAI official.

Eyeing her first gold medal in five attempts at the Archery World Cup Final, Deepika admitted that she was outplayed by Misun. “When I missed the gold medal in Tokyo 2012 and Paris 2013, I was extremely disappointed. By now I am sort of used to it (laughs). This time, I have to admit that Misun’s performance was better. Overall, I am pretty confident for Rio Olympics and I am hoping to do well there,” she told TOI.

Even though she was nursing a back and shoulder injury, Deepika said she does not want to use it as an excuse. “I was injured so I could not give my best. I have a stiff back and a minor shoulder injury. I had to work through the pain. It is still there and I am working on it with my physiotherapist. However, I cannot say the result would have been different had I been fully fit,” said Deepika, who will be participating in the Asian Championships in Bangkok next week.

Archer Abhishek Verma, who won a silver, a first-ever World Cup Final medal in compound for India, also expressed support for Deepika. “Even though she is my junior, Deepika has inspired me a lot. I have learnt a lot from her. To win four silver medals is not easy. It’s a huge feat as there is a lot of pressure. Luck also matters a lot in this sport. All our competitors are good and hungry for victory,” he said.