KOCHI: Jharkhand’s Laxmi Rani Manjhi has always been an underdog in the Jharkhand archery team, shadowed by the towering images of her Olympian teammates Deepika Kumari, Reena Kumari and Pranitha Vardhineni.
But on Monday, at the JN International Stadium here, she changed all that. Laxmi quit playing second fiddle to her more fancied teammates and thrust herself into the limelight, bagging the gold in the individual recurve event. En route, she toppled former world number 2 and hot favourite Deepika 6-4 in the semifinal, before reigning in Assam’s Satbir Kaur, 7-3 in the final.
“I didn’t expect to win the gold at all. I was confident of myself after the ranking rounds, but was not eager for the title,” Laxmi said.
She described her duel with Deepika as the toughest encounter she faced at the Games and once she got past her, she was sure of winning the gold medal.
“Ahead of the semifinal against Deepika, I told myself I was not competing against her, but myself. She is such a good archer,” said the 26 year old from Ghatsila.
This is Laxmi's first individual gold in the National Games. "An Olympic medal is my dream and that's all I dream," she said.