World number one Deepika Kumari turned in a disappointing performance in the London Olympics ranking qualification on Friday. She finished eighth after notching up 662 points in 12 rounds.
The pressure of the Olympics and her position in the rankings seems to have got to her. The other two women archers Bombayla Devi and Chekrovolu Swuro were also poor with 22nd and 50th positions respectively as the Indian team finished 9th in the 12-team event.
Deepika got off the wrong foot, collecting only 50 points in the first round of six shots. She improved drastically thereafter with rounds of 55, 55, 55, 57, 55, 57, 55, 55, 56, 57 and 55, but it was not good enough. The 18-year-old ended up nine points adrift of joint-leaders Bo Bae Ki (Korea), Sung Jin Lee (Korea) and Ya-Ting Tan (Chinese Taipei).
What led to Deepika’s below-par showing is the question on every Indian fan’s lips right now. The conditions at Lord’s were pretty similar to the ones in India. Clearly, it’s only pressure; the pressure to win medals for a medal-starving country. This is not the first time an Indian has succumbed under pressure at the world’s biggest sporting spectacle. Remember, legendary sprinter Milkha Singh, who finished fourth in the 400m at the Rome Olympics in 1960 despite getting off to a great start.
However, we shouldn’t lose our hearts. She has not become the world’s number one just like that. She can always redeem herself. It might be the calm before the storm. Who knows? India will play Denmark in the elimination round next and that match-up is of utmost importance. A good show there will erase today's bad memories.