TOKYO: Success at the Tokyo Olympics would be like winning a battle against herself for world number one archer Deepika Kumari, who confessed that she's nervous to live up to the expectations.
Battling windy conditions, Deepika on Wednesday survived some jittery moments to overcome US teenager Jennifer Mucino-Fernandez 6-4 to keep Indian hopes alive on a day when Tarundeep Rai and Pravin Jadhav exited.
"Obviously, I'm nervous. The pressure at the Olympics is at a different level as you put in years of effort to win a medal here. It's a battle within yourself and I'm trying to win against myself here," Deepika told Indian reporters here after her hard-fought second round win on Wednesday.
"The pressure of expectation is from yourself only and not from the people as you always want to better your performance.
"You don't feel the pressure of the people of the country when you shoot here. It does not matter much. It's your own pressure that often takes a toll. We are always trying to overcome that."
Deepika had made her Olympics debut at London 2012 as world number one but crashed out of the opening round.
Before Rio 2016 she had raised the expectations once again but only to make a pre-quarterfinal exit.
"Meri kismat hi kharab hai (I guess it's my bad luck). I don't know what's there in store for me. Every time before the Olympics, I win something to be in the limelight. Honestly, I don't want to be highlighted but it just happens," she said.
Deepika, who qualified as ninth seed, had an easy first round draw against world no 193 Karma but there too she struggled to get her best scores and shot a solitary 10 in a three-setter.
Against the US debutant Jennifer, Deepika shot in the red-circle four times and misfired a 6 but only to survive in a low-scoring affair.
"It's completely opposite to the last time (during the Tokyo2020 Test Event in 2019). Maybe I struggled to read the wind properly. There's a lot of wind movements. Honestly I was not able to perform up to the mark."
"Even that six was a shock for me and I'm clueless how it happened as I thought I had a good release. I get nervous when I have a bad shot but I'm trying my best to be confident," she said.
Deepika will have a two-day break before gearing up for her big day on Saturday when the women's individual medals will be decided.
Asked whether she has judged the conditions well now, she said: "I can't say I've judged well. The weather is not in your hands, it keeps changing every second. Let's hope for the best (on Saturday)."
Deepika's husband Atanu Das is the lone male archer left in the fray.
He will face Deng Yu-Cheng of Chinese Taipei in his opening round of 64 match on Thursday.
The men's medal round matches will be held on Sunday.