Kumari returns to form, reclaims position as India’s top archer

Deepika Kumari back to form in Shanghai 2024.

Deepika Kumari is back with a bang, reclaiming her position as India’s top archer with a remarkable silver medal at the first stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Shanghai.

A day after her incredible feat, Kumari was also back in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) core group less than 100 days before the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The TOPS is the Indian sports ministry’s flagship programme to provide aid and all requisite support to India’s elite athletes, improve their training so that they can win medals at Olympic or Paralympic Games.

Kumari confirmed World Archery to have received an email on her inclusion in the Olympic core group, but admitted having mixed feelings on the development. 

“I have nothing much to say,” former world number one Kumari said. “The Olympics are just three months away, so I won’t be able to benefit anything being in the TOPS. I will continue training in the same way as I have been doing until now.”

The three-time Olympian missed the entire season last year after becoming a mother in December 2022.

She returned to competition only early this year to clinch a medal at the Asia Cup in Baghdad before finding her silver lining in Shanghai.

Kumari and her husband Atanu Das, an Asian Games silver medallist, were dropped from the Olympic core list after the national archery ranking tournament in January 2022.

Olympian Pravin Ramesh Jadhav has been moved from the development group to the core group following his team gold in Shanghai, while Mrinal Chauhan has been added to the development programme. 

Recurve women’s podium at Shanghai 2024 Hyundai Archery World Cup.

Kumari’s return to top form was right on time when India was looking for a leadership in the team announced for the season

“The decision was made after a core committee meeting in April following the selection trials,” explained India’s high-performance director Sanjeeva Kumar Singh. “The silver [in Shanghai] was definitely the icing on the cake when the announcement was made.”

Singh further said the 29-year-old’s return has improved India’s medal prospect at Paris 2024.  

“She has returned to form just in the right time. Now India can fight for a medal in men’s team, mixed team, and women’s individual.”

“The way she has defeated Korean youngster Nam Suhyeon with scores of 29, 29 and 28 proves that she not only is back but her confidence is back as well, which is very crucial when one is making a comeback after so many months.”

Dhiraj Bommadevara has secured India’s only Olympic place so far – thanks to his silver medal effort at the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament in November. 

The final chance to add quotas for Paris this summer is set at the third stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Antalya in June.