Asian Games 2018: A man of few words, yoga proponent Deepak Kumar lets his rifle speak at Jakarta

Jakarta: Deepak Kumar is not a natural with words; he does not need to be. Soft-spoken by nature, he is a man of few words, almost from his childhood.

When one puts together bits and pieces of his early life, it transpires that his father sent him to a Gurukul at the tender age of 11. He stressed on Deepak becoming a ‘good human being’ more than anything else. Deepak went to a Gurukul in Dehradun.

Deepak Kumar displays the silver medal he won in the Men's 10m Air Rifle event. AP

Deepak Kumar displays the silver medal he won in the Men's 10m Air Rifle event. AP

It does not end there – he spent almost a decade there to study and learn Yoga, Vedas and Sanskrit. He is now proficient in all these three disciplines.

Yes, he is also proficient in shooting and that has helped India add a silver medal to it tally from the 10m Air Rifle at the shooting range in Palembang.

On Monday, Deepak exhibited the sterling performance when it mattered most. From being close to elimination in qualification round, he moved into the final. Before the final, Deepak was at the fifth spot in the qualification round, while Ravi was placed fourth.

As China’s Yang Haoran retained the title he won in 2014 in Incheon, Deepak claimed the silver while Lu Shaochan, who won a gold in Mixed Team event a day earlier, was pushed to bronze. The other Indian challenger, Ravi Kumar was the fourth. Yang also won the gold in Team event four years ago.

Long before he took to shooting, Deepak even tried his hand at archery. Given his preference to things ‘more Indian’ like Yoga, Vedas, Sanskrit and Gurukul, archery seemed a natural choice . But he gave that up because of an injury. It is not too clear what the injury was, or how it occurred.

But sometime back, he did mention to the media that it was while he was in Dehradun in the Gurukul, he happened to chance on the Jaspal Rana Shooting Academy. “I was drawn to the sport,” he said.

Focus and marksmanship go hand-in-hand. There was his love for archery and then he had tried his hand at pistol shooting – interestingly, pistol was Jaspal’s forte, too. The school acquired both pistol and rifle. Deepak finally settled for a Rifle. Thank god!

The highly spirtual person that he is, Deepak said, “Everyone keeps thinking about what they will get. I believe in spreading whatever I have learnt from my days in Gurukul. You eventually get your due. There is not point feeling sad about anything. Life is short.”

“I am what I am because of Gurukul. It has taught me the true values of life. My parents sent me away from Delhi because they did not want me to study in a city environment,” he added.

Shooting became a serious affair, when Deepak joined the Air Force about 10 years ago. Former India shooter Manoj Kumar was the coach there.

Deepak has won a few medals at the international level, but many of them have gone unnoticed, more so when more high-profile and more eloquent shooters have won alongside him. He does have a highly creditable bronze medal in ISSF World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico in Mixed Team event alongside Mehuli Ghosh.

Now comes his biggest success, a silver at the Asian Games in Jakarta.

His coach Manoj has often instilled in Deepak the belief that he has enough potential to win medals at the highest levels. Deepak said, “I was trailing also in the qualification. I just thought about his (Manoj’s) words. He often says ‘you have the potential and you know your limits’. Starting was not good, the middle was worse. So I just tried to stay calm,” he added.

Deepak got into shooting back in 2004-05, when he was around 16 years of age. But he got into the Indian team only last year. Despite being a 30-year-old, Deepak feels he has a long way to go in shooting.

Interestingly, Deepak shares the room in Jakarta with fellow Air Force shooter, Ravi, who won a bronze in Mixed Team 10m Air Rifle with Apurvi Chandela. On Monday, Ravi was competing with Deepak. Asked how he felt about that, Deepak said, “We don’t think on those lines when you are shooting. We are close friends and spend a lot of time together. But it is an individual sport.”

A winner of bronze medal at Commonwealth Shooting Championships in Brisbane before the main Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Deepak has time and again come close to another medal. The bronze in Guadalajara, Mexico was the beginning and the journey continues with the silver in Jakarta and it could well lead to bigger things. For all that and more, Deepak is willing to work hard and bide his time.


Updated Date: Aug 20, 2018 20:52 PM

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