While the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics came as a bummer to most athletes, for India archers Atanu Das and Deepika Kumar, the news wasn’t too disappointing after all. Archers Atanu and Deepika, an engaged couple were planning on getting married after the Tokyo Games, but with the Summer Games now no longer taking place before July 23 next year, the duo may just be having a change of plans. Also Read - Leander Paes Aims For Eighth Olympics, Targets Record 100 Grand Slam Appearances
“The original idea was to focus completely on the Olympics and get married once it’s over,” Atanu told ESPN in an interview. “But now, with the postponement, we’re having second thoughts. We’ve been engaged for close to two years now. Maybe once the virus scenario eases, we might get married this year.” Also Read - Jharkhand's Budding Archer Soni Khatoon Forced to Sell Vegetables; CM Hemant Soren Gives Her Rs 20,000
Timing worked out well for Atanu and Deepika, who, not too long ago were at a training facility in Pune, but managed to survive the lockdown bullet just in time to return home to Kolkata hours before the hiatus was imposed on Thursday. Also Read - Final Decision on Tokyo Olympics Won't be Made in October, Says Games CEO Toshiro Muto
“We were really lucky,” says Atanu, “Four out of six flights that were scheduled around the same time as ours were cancelled. We’re just so glad to be back home with my parents in time or we would have been stuck in camp for at least the next couple of weeks or months. It would have driven us crazy.”
Atanu and Deepika had secured their respective Olympics berths. Atanu, along with fellow archers Tarundeep Rai and Pravin Jadhav, had qualified with a 5-3 win over Canada at the World Championships quarterfinal. Deepika, on the other hand, claimed her spot with a gold medal finish at the Asian Continental Qualifying tournament November last year. Atanu revealed he was looking forward to the Games, especially due to the learnings he got at Rio de Janeiro four years ago.
“After my Rio experience,” says Atanu. “I learnt how important it is to have the right mind. Our sport is so much about being able to manage confidence, concentration and anxiety. The margin between medal and no medal is just so narrow. In Rio, I was shooting fine, but my mental strength wasn’t up to the mark.”
That said, the couple doesn’t mind the break as it allows them to spend quality time. Looking back at how love blossomed between two of India’s promising archers, Atanu said they were friends first before falling in love.
“We’ve known each other for so long so there’s a strong bond of friendship and whole lot of comfort between us,” says Atanu, “We only started seeing each other around three years ago but we didn’t want the other archers and our teammates to know about it really so we kept it private. We only made it public around the time we got engaged in December (2018).
“I’ve learnt so much from Deepika. Her attitude of karna hai to karna hai (if you have to do it, you have to do it) is something I admire. Also the effort she puts into her physical fitness. It hasn’t slackened in all the years I’ve known her. On Sunday offs at the camp every week, both of us spend the whole day roaming malls. We’re alike that way. We both love the same things. We can talk about our sport with each other endlessly and yet not sound crazy.”