London Olympics: How Deepika became India’s big hope, and biggest disappointment

first_imgBefore the 2012 Olympics, there was a buzz around Deepika Kumari. The young girl from Ranchi was being talked about as one of India’s standout medal hopefuls. Even MS Dhoni, the Indian cricket captain, who also hails from Ranchi, was rooting for her. In fact, some believed that a spot on the podium was a given.The hype was perhaps justified. After all, Deepika did have the world number one tag on her bow. She had won a medal at every event that she had entered in the past few months. She was, on paper, the woman to beat in London.But all the hopes were shattered in the first few days of the archery competition in the iconic fields of the Lord’s cricket ground. Deepika flopped big time in the team event. The faithfuls termed it a blip. She would show her mettle in the individual competition, they claimed.On came the singles event. India watched with hope and anticipation. However, the result was disappointing again. In many ways, worse than what it was in the team competition.So what went wrong? Did form desert Deepika? Did the conditions play traunt with her? Or was she just not good enough?Over the last few days, it has become clear that the last, rather harsh, criticism is what the Indian contingent might have to come to terms with.Experts suggest that Deepika’s world number one ranking, which eventually led to a host of expectations, was simply an eyewash. Although the Indian shot well in various events in the run up to the London Olympics and made the most of her chances, many believe the performances didn’t quite merit the kind of climb that she had in the rankings.advertisementThose in the know of archery claim that Deepika’s ascent came about because other top competitors around the world stopped competeing in ranking tournaments and concentrated on the Olympics. Yes, Deepika was the number one in a list on a computer, but still no match for the best in real terms.What made matters worse was the Indian archer’s inexperience at the big stage. Participating in the Olympic Games is always a daunting prospect for any athlete. Deepika turned out to be no different. She clearly felt the jitters with every arrow she shot in this arena of champions — nerves got the better of her.To some extent, the weather too played a part in giving Deepika cold feet. The grey and damp mornings in London weren’t quite to her liking and it showed through the competition.In hindsight, the hype around Deepika may have turned out to be over the top. But the truth is, she is better than the bracket — first round loser — she finds herself in. Age is on her side and with some tough lessons learnt, she can surely return stronger in Rio in four years.last_img

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