Deepika in action mode Image: AFP
Ace Indian archer Deepika Kumar shrugged off her poor run of form by clinching the gold medal in the women's recurve event at the World Cup (Stage III) after a gap of six years, beating Germany's Michelle Kroppen 7-3 to qualify for the circuit final later this year.
Deepika, a four-time World Cup final silver medallist (2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015), automatically qualified for the Archery World Cup Final in Samsun, Turkey, which will be her seventh appearance at the season-ending event.
"Finally! That's what I said when I won this gold medal," says Deepika, whose last victory at a World Cup stage event came six years ago in Antalya back in 2012.
The Indian archer opened the match with 29 out of a possible 30 points to take a 2-0 lead, before splitting the points with Kroppen in the second.
The German archer, making her individual debut in the finals arena, won the third set and tied the match at 3-3. Deepika then took the fourth and fifth sets with a 29 and a 27, over Michelle's pair of 26s, to win the match, 7-3.
"I was repeating to myself, just do it the best, this is your time, just enjoy your game and forget about winning or losing and have fun," Deepika was quoted saying on the official website of the World Archery Federation.
"Do I feel relieved to qualify? Yes and no. I'm not expecting anything, at the moment I'm just enjoying my game, I want to enjoy my game," says Deepika, who has often failed to live up to expectations at the biggest stage such as the Olympics.
Tan Ya-Ting of Chinese Taipei beat Gabriela Bayardo of the Netherlands in four sets, 7-1, to the recurve women's bronze medal.
In the medal standings, India finished fourth behind the US, Colombia and Chinese Taipei with a gold, silver and bronze each in the penultimate stage of the World Cup.
Deepika, however, returned empty-handed in the recurve mixed pair section alongside Atanu Das, where they lost to the Chinese Taipei pair of Tang Chih-Chun and Tan Ya-Ting 4-5 in the shoot-off.
Locked 37-all after set four, the pair of Deepika and Atanu Das shot an identical 8s, while their opponents sealed the issue with a nine and eight.
India's Asian Games-bound archery squad will now head off to Berlin for the fourth World Cup from July 16-22 ahead of the Indonesia Asian Games in August-September.
(With inputs from PTI)