Kumari to make season debut at World Cup stage in Paris

Deepika Kumari shoots at the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final.

Deepika Kumari had a career year in 2021, winning two stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup – the first in Guatemala and the third in Paris – and returning to the world number one spot ahead of her third Olympics.

But at the start of this year, she missed out on her long-held spot on the Indian top team, although it was said that she would shoot at stage four as part of a ‘B’ squad. There was a caveat published with the team announcement. Should the squad underperform ahead of the Asian Games, then changes would be made.

Although the Games have since been postponed, that promised change has been made – Deepika is on the entry list for next week’s third stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Paris.

“I’m happy I’m back in the team,” said the 28-year-old. “Every competition is different, every situation is different. But yes, I am excited to play for my country again.”

The event will be the first time Deepika competes against archers from Korea – except at the Olympics – since 2019, as that team skipped last year’s post-pandemic return for the circuit. And Kumari didn’t make the Indian team for the world championships at the end of last season, either.

“There was so much going on those six to seven months,” she said. “After that, I lost my confidence and I’m out of the team. I’ve been working hard now for two or three months and I am still.”

Lost in the shuffle this season has been the impact of the post-Olympic hangover for recurve archers. Athletes put so much energy into a Games that the ability to commit, train and deliver often simply drops off afterwards. It’s why the sport, performance and who’s at the top are all cyclical. Kumari’s almost certainly been impacted, and likely others, too.

The lack of attention is probably because of the one-year delay of Tokyo from 2020 to 2021 – and the fact that qualifying for Paris already starts next year. Timelines are squashed. It’s a battle to get back.

Although it’s unlikely to be the case, with no results to speak of from the Indian women so far this season and this high-profile switch, there shouldn’t be too much expectation on Kumari as she makes her circuit return in 2022. It’s a process.

“No one can say they’re ready for any one thing,” she said. “You have to work to be ready for every situation.”

Competition for recurve archers in Paris starts with qualifying on Wednesday.

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