The Married Archers from India: ‘We Are A Powerful Couple’
TOKYO – When the arrow of love struck, Deepika Kumari and Atanu Das were ready with their own quivers. Known as Dee-Das in India, the couple are one of two archery couples married at the Tokyo Olympics.
Both halves of the couple advanced to the individual archery event, with Das falling in the Round of 16 on Saturday to 2012 Olympic silver medalist Takaharu Furukawa of Japan.
Waving the Indian flag in the stands under a blazing sun was Kumari, the world No. 1, who had reached the quarter-finals the day before. She was beaten by An San of South Korea, who won the gold medal.
“We are a powerful couple,” Das said after his elimination on Saturday. “We lost in the Olympics here, but from now on we’ll play the game differently. We have learned so much over the past few years and we know how to handle the pressure. “
India’s Olympic footprint is small, especially given its large population. Besides men’s hockey, the country won only one other gold medal, in the men’s 10-meter air rifle event at the Beijing 2008 Games. In Tokyo, Indian archers were considered among the country’s medal hopefuls but failed to reach the podium. So far India has won a silver medal in women’s weightlifting and secured a medal in women’s boxing.
Archery is a mental sport par excellence. Entering the competition on Saturday, Das wrote the word “calm” on his hand to remind him not to let the pressure erode his confidence. The difference between winning and losing in archery is measured in millimeters.
“They are helping each other on their nerves,” said Mim Bahadur Gurung, the Indian archery coach, referring to the support the couple are giving each other. “It’s easy to get nervous in archery.”
In previous rounds in Tokyo, played on an artificial island built from a rubbish dump, Das had done without 2012 Olympic gold medalist Oh Jin-hyek, who is part of the strong shooting team. to the arc of South Korea. Unusually, none of the Koreans were in contention for a medal in the men’s individual event, although the team won gold on Monday.
The other married archers who competed in Tokyo are Florian Unruh and Lisa Unruh from Germany. A silver medalist in the women’s individual event at the Rio 2016 Games, she was part of the German women’s team that won bronze in Tokyo on Sunday. He advanced to the quarter-finals on Saturday, after beating another Korean Olympic gold medalist.
As Covid-19 rages in India and the government wants to raise its Olympic profile, the archery team has been sent to an army sports institute in the city of Pune to train for eight month. Being away from his family for so long was difficult, but Kumari and Das were together.
In June, they won gold in the mixed team event at a World Cup archery competition. But Das’ shooting was seen as erratic as the Games approached, and they were not paired up for competition in Tokyo. Kumari and his mixed team partner Pravin Jadhav reached the quarter-finals before being eliminated by their Korean rivals.
Das and Kumari had originally planned to tie the knot around the time of the Tokyo Olympics. But the Games were delayed and they decided to get married last year. On a ring finger, Das wears his wedding ring. On the other, it has a gold ring with the Olympic rings.
“Now it’s over,” he said, “but we’ll be back in three years.”
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