Atanu Das and Deepika Kumari will be the first athlete couple of India to take part in the same event in the Olympics. Both the recurve archers booked their tickets to the Tokyo Games after a selection trails organised by the Archery Association of India (AAI) at the Army Sports Institute in Pune.
In 1972 Munich Olympics, Vace Paes and his wife Jennifer were the first Indian couple to go to the same Games, but while Vece took part in hockey, Jennifer represented the country in hockey.
Both Atanu and Deepika came to know each other for the first time as apprentices at the Tata Archery Academy in Jamshedpur in 2008. However, it was not the typical love-at-first-sight story for this Kolkata boy and Ranchi girl. It was the proximity factor that perhaps brought the duo together.
They developed a bonding by staying and practising together at the academy over the years and travelling with the India team to various international tournaments. The duo started dating from 2017 onward and tied the knot in a private ceremony at Morabadi in Ranchi in 2020 when the country was going through a lockdown.
The original idea was to get married after the Tokyo Games in 2020, but once the Games got postponed, they decided to settle down as husband and wife before the rescheduled Games in 2021.
But the lovebirds had their eyes fixed on the Greatest Show on Earth and left no stones unturned to make it to Tokyo. Their hard work paid off as both the archers finished among top three in their respective categories to secure their places in the Indian squad.
Besides Atanu and Deepika, Tarundeep and Pravin Jadhav made the men’s squad while Ankita Bhakat and Komolika Bari complete the women’s squad.
While the men’s recurve team had already won an Olympic quota place (of three archers) by winning a silver medal at the 2019 Archery World Championships held in the Netherlands, the women had achieved only one quota place so far with Deepika bagging the gold at the 2019 Asian Archery Championships.
They will, however, get an opportunity to earn team berth at the third stage of the World Cup, in Paris in June.
However, Olympics is something not new for the duo. While Deepika will be visiting her third Games in Tokyo after making the London (2012) and Rio (2016) Games, it will be Atanu’s second after he represented the Rio Games.
But this time they stand to create history as they can make the country proud by winning the country’s first Olympics medal in archery.