Recalling the time when Indian archers had to compete at a continental event under a neutral flag, former world No. 1 archer Deepika Kumari said it was a disheartening experience.

At the 21st Asian Championships in November 2019, Indian archers competed under the World Archery (WA) flag as the Archery Association of India (AAI) was suspended by the world body.

“It’s disheartening to not represent your country’s flag. I don’t think that will happen again in my career as things are now settled down,” Deepika, who won bronze at the event, told The Times of India.

Recently, WA lifted the suspension with conditions after the AAI elected a new president in January.

Despite Indian archers producing excellent performances at international meets, they have failed to win medals at the Olympics. Deepika links it to the ‘unnecessary pressure’ people start putting on the Indian contingent ahead of the Games unlike athletes from other countries.

“Whoever is representing India in Olympics wants to win medal. Same applies to archers also,” she said. “I think, players are put under unnecessary pressure. In India, people start talking about Olympics just a few days before the event while in other countries they start preparing for Olympics almost two years before the event. This saves the athletes from undue pressure.”

Deepika is leaving no stone unturned as she prepares to bring home a medal from the Tokyo Olympics later this year.  “I am working hard for winning medal in Olympics. Only the athlete representing India can understand the hard work put in by him to represent India in Olympics,” she said.