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Deepika fan eyes archery summit

- 14-year-old Simpy could grow up to be Jharkhand’s next golden girl

She is only 14 years old. Yet she is giving senior archers a run for their money in national championships.

Meet Simpy Kumari, a Class VIII student of Silli-based Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya. Having taken up the bow and arrow two years ago, the teenager is grabbing attention with consistent performances at state and national-level competitions.

She received a national award at New Delhi on Children’s Day this year for gold-winning performances at school, sub-junior and junior level championships.

Simpy, who trains at Birsa Munda Archery Training Centre in Silli, is currently competing in Indian round — a form of archery using traditional bows and arrows. However, her mentors are planning to gradually initiate her into the recurve round.

Her promising performances have, expectedly, led to speculation that she might be Jharkhand’s next big thing after Deepika Kumari.

Simpy herself considers the Arjuna awardee idol.

“Deepikadi bahut acchhi lagti hain. Unke jaisa banna chahti hu. Isliye khub mehnat kar rahin hu (I’m a fan of Deepika Kumari and want to follow in her footsteps. So, I am working very hard),” Simpy told The Telegraph over phone from Silli.

Simpy’s father Lakshmi Ram Mahto is a security guard at a Ranchi apartment complex. “Sunte hain ki Simpy acchi teerandaj hain. Par, mujhe teerandaji ke baare mein bahut jyada nahin malum. (I have heard Simpy is a good archer. But, I don’t know much about the sport),” he said.

Prakash Ram, who is Simpy’s mentor at the Birsa Munda Archery Training Centre, said the 14-year-old had immense potential. “I have plans to groom her into a recurve archer as that would provide her the opportunity to compete on the international stage. She is hardworking and keen to improve her skills,” he said.

Ram justified his confidence in her by pointing out that she had already bagged numerous medals in national and state-level archery meets. “Simpy also has a team silver and bronze in senior national championships,” he added.

Simpy’s potential has not gone unnoticed with Dronacharya award-winning coach Purnima Mahto, who is credited with grooming golden girl Deepika.

“I was very impressed with her during the sub-junior nationals in Bangalore last year. Her stance and head position are good,” Mahto said, adding that efforts must be made to provide her with adequate exposure.

However, Mahto differed with her mentor, saying that Simpy must not be rushed into the recurve mode immediately.

“She can graduate to recurve division in due course of time. But, the recurve form needs more power and Simpy is still very young,” Mahto said, adding that the Silli girl could be introduced to the new level in two years’ time.

Jharkhand Archery Association’s working secretary L. Murty lauded Simpy, but added her physical development would play a key role in how she shaped up as an archer.

“No doubt Simpy has the potential to make it big, but we are worried about her height. She is only five feet. In recurve archery, the draw length increases and more power is required,” he added.

Murty said Simpy had it in her to become the next Deepika Kumari. “We are hopeful she will grow taller. She’s still a teenager,” he said.