Mumbai: They were denied to prove it together, but they are giving their best shot individually. The husband-wife combination of archers Deepika and Atanu Das have raised the medals hopes for the country, winning both their rounds in the Tokyo Olympics.
At the Yumenoshima Park Archery Field, Atanu Das had the entire world behind him in his wife Deepika Kumari and proved he was the best in business.
He stunned London Olympics gold medallist South Korean Oh Jin-hyek, holding his nerve at crucial stages, to send the multiple Olympic medalist packing with a 6-5 win after sealing a thrilling shoot-off.
As India's star archer Atanu Das took the field in the men's individual recurve events, Deepika Kumari was screaming in messages of support and sending pieces of advice for her better half.
"Good job! Confidence!" Kumari yelled from the stands, a lone voice, which was much louder than a packed stadium, against a dozen Korean staff and team members who tried to urge Oh to victory.
"I was hearing her the whole time, and she was pushing me and telling me to believe in myself," Das told media. Incidentally, Das was wearing two rings, a wedding ring, and an Olympic ring.
Deepika has also advanced to the Round of 16 in the women's individual archery event. She will be in action on Friday.
Das had lost his place to rookie Pravin Jadhav in the fancied mixed team event after slipping to 35th place in the ranking. Returning to action a week after the break-up with Deepika Kumari for the mixed pair event, Das showed amazing resilience against Oh.
Incidentally, Das had beaten Oh earlier too in the shoot-off for a bronze medal in the Asian Championships in Bangkok in 2019.
But dealing with the utmost pressure and to win at the biggest stage of the Olympics was something more special.
"Yahan pe dimaag chala raha tha, dil nahin. (Obviously, there was a lot of pressure but I just tried to maintain my focus and didn't listen to my heart)," Das said after the win.
"We all know he is an Olympic champion and how great he's... Every match in the Olympics is like a final, so it feels more special."
"I came to know that he is going to shoot first and he delivered a 9... I knew I've to either shoot a 10 or go out of the competition. I gave it a shot and won the match."
Deepika has been pitted against Russian world no 8 Ksenia Perova, a team silver medallist at Rio 2016 and a former world champion in her pre-quarters on Friday, while Das will face home favourite Takaharu Furukawa, an individual silver medallist at London Olympics and a team bronze winner here in the last-16 clash on Saturday.
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