New Delhi, June 21 - Indian top archer Deepika Kumari has taken her elevation to the World No. 1 ranking as a routine happening, saying her focus now is on a podium finish at next month's Olympic Games in London.
Deepika told IANS from Kolkata that it is a nice feeling to be World No. 1, nothing more at this juncture when she is concentrating on winning Olympic medals.
"It feels good to be number one, but right now my teammates and I are concentrating on the London performance and we are training hard," said Deepika, who is the first Indian archer to attain the top spot in FITA rankings.
Deepika's coach Poornima Mahato told IANS that her ward took the breaking news as a matter of fact without any visible celebration.
"When I broke the news to her after seeing the latest rankings on World Archery site, Deepika was happy alright, but she did not want to get overly excited about it. All her focus now is on winning medals in the team as well as in individual events at the Olympics."
It is almost a week now that Deepika has ascended to the pinnacle of world archery and she has taken it as another credit in her already impressive CV.
The women's team, which has already qualified for the Olympics, is back training in hot humid Kolkata after the monsoon rains drove them off from Gangtok. The 18-year-old World Cup winner was all praise for the facilities in Gangtok and told IANS that she would have preferred to have continued to practise there.
"The weather was really pleasant there. Unlike Kolkata, we could practice anytime we wanted. They took very good care of us. I wish we stayed back longer," said Deepika gushing about the picturesque Paljor Football Stadium in Gangtok.
She, along with Laishram Bombayla Devi and Chekrovolu Swuro, is back training at the Sports Authority of India Centre in West Bengal's capital after a fruitful 20-day stay in the Sikkim capital. The men's recurve team is away in the US for a last shot at the Olympic qualification.
The grind for the archers starts at six in the morning with routine jogging and fitness regimen followed by a practise session. They resume shooting when the heat abates and carry on till dusk sets in.
"We go out again in the evening around four, even if it is hot. That way we get more time until sundown. We didn't have to worry about that in Sikkim," said the find of the Tata Archery Academy.
Deepika believes the medal chances are equal in the singles and team competition despite her recent World Cup triumph in Antalya, Turkey.
"The World Cup win was big but you can't compare it with the Olympics. It is the ultimate thing for an athlete and so it is to me. The pressure is immense and I am clueless about the conditions at Lord's. I heard it's normally windy there so shooting will be tricky," said the 2009 Cadet and Youth World Champion.
On specifics in training ahead of the Olympics, she says building on the team chemistry and hitting the target consistently will be the key.
"We need to gel better as a team. Right now we are working on the technique. We are also aiming to score consistently 25 in practice and are mentally preparing in a such way that even if we hit low scores of 20, it is fine. It is what you do on the day matters most in archery."
The women will face stiff competition from the likes of South Korea, China and Italy. The Indian trio had lost the title clash to Italy in the last World Championships after stunning the South Koreans in the semis.
Thanks to the global success of archers like Deepika, India have become a force to reckon with. On the popularity front, the Ranchi girl feels the sport has a long way to go.
"People in India started noticing us after we won the gold in the Commonwealth Games, but I don't think it got the hype it deserved. Had it been cricket, everyone would have gone to town," said Deepika, referring to the two gold medals she won in the 2010 New Delhi Games.
Though she is preoccupied with winning a medal in London, Deepika would like to complete her schooling on her return.
"I have been wanting to complete my 12th exams for the past two years. My father is very keen on my education and that is the first thing I will focus on after coming back."(IANS)