NEW DELHI: It has been a challenging time for sports in general as Covid-19 rages on. It has affected India’s Olympic-bound archers with their participation in World Cup Stage II jeopardized due to the rising number of cases and strict quarantine rules. But Stage I gold medallist Atanu Das is not letting these things get in his way as he is fully focussed on clinching an Olympic medal.
In a freewheeling chat with this daily, the recurve archer spoke about the various controversies in the last couple of months and how his mindset has helped him overcome obstacles. He also spoke about his marriage, something that he feels has helped him evolve as an athlete. Excerpts...
How much of a blow is missing out on the World Cup Stage II. What do you think of the whole issue?
We were made aware of the 10-day quarantine rule in Switzerland and it would have been difficult to perform after spending so much time in isolation. The federation tried their best but it did not work out. Of course, it is disappointing to miss out. We now have to focus on the upcoming challenges and make sure that we perform to our potential. But we hope the same is not repeated in Paris as the same quarantine rules apply there.
Only one World Cup left prior to the Olympics. Is this lack of tournaments going to affect the archers?
There is no substitute for international competitions. The goal was to maximise the opportunities we have during these times but there is no point in crying over spilt milk. Our aim is to do well in Tokyo and ensure the women’s team qualifies.
Did you expect the gold in Guatemala? Are you in best possible frame of mind currently?
This was our first international tournament in almost one-and-a-half years. To be honest, there was a lot of nervousness and trepidation but excitement as well to finally step out wearing the national colours. Ever since the last Olympics, I have been working a lot on the mind apart from the technical aspects. And that has helped a lot when it comes to performing under pressure. That was on display during Stage I and as far as technical flaws are concerned, I have re-watched footage and I’m looking to improve on those aspects. I’m hoping to try out a few more things in Paris before zeroing in on a plan for Tokyo.
Lot of big names did not take part in Stage I. Do you think that helped India?
I do not agree with this point. Archery is not about big names or past glories of a country. On any given day, a new champion can emerge. And we have proven our calibre in the Worlds as well. So big name or small, it does not matter. What matters is shooting your best on that particular day. All of us are working daily and in Paris, I’m sure we will shoot well and the women’s team will also surely qualify.
How do you handle pressure and has your marriage with Deepika Kumari helped you, both technical and from a mental standpoint?
After our marriage, Guatemala was our first competition and both of us won gold so that is a major positive (laughs). But yes, she is far more experienced than me and she has many more international medals to her name. She can be a motivator at some point and then a partner. We both interchange our roles to help the other. And that is something which has helped for sure. And pressure will always be there but the mental training I have been doing involves channeling those (pressure) into positive emotions and remaining calm. Mindset is the key and that is what I’m constantly working on.