Deepika Kumari believed she could bring laurels to the nation through archery. But her father, an auto-rickshaw driver in Ranchi, didn’t think so. To Shiv Charan Prajapati, his daughter’s belief was just a dream, especially coming from a poor family.
Her cousin Vidya Kumari, an archer at the Tata Archery Academy in Jamshedpur, showed the way.
On Sunday, with the Tricolour slowly being hoisted at the Yamuna Sports Complex, it could be the time for a family reconciliation of the Commonwealth Games’ golden double-winning archer.
“I dedicate this gold medal to my parents and to everyone who’s played a part in my progress, especially my coaches,” said the 16-year-old, who, till yesterday, would run away from the media and hide behind her mentor Dola didi (Banerjee).
“I was wrong. I underestimated her,” said Prajapati at Ratu Chati village, 15 km from Ranchi. He lives there with wife Geeta, who is a group D staff at the Ranchi Medical College, and two other daughters. “She has proved her point.”
Deepika visited her home in three years only after winning the cadet World Championship title in November 2009.
Even when the national camp at the SAI Eastern Centre in Kolkata is not on, she checks into the hostel of the KMCT College in Ranchi, where she is studying arts in first year junior college.
“From where I come, people do not know about archery. So when my father heard I wanted to pick up archery, he was not very happy,” said Deepika.
“But I was determined. There is a small academy in Kharsawan run by Meera Munda (Arjun Munda’s wife). I began archery there and then moved to the Tata Archery Academy,” she added.
Soon after winning the world cadet title, Deepika had said she wanted to be part of the Commonwealth Games team alongside the seniors. Just like her father, many did not believe her.
With two gold medals on Sunday, both in team and individual recurve, the next best thing in Indian archery stands vindicated.
“Give us another archer like Deepika and we will show the world what we can do,” said Dola at the post event media conference. Now, that is a dream.