Atanu Das. (Photo by Dean Alberga/World Archery Federation via Getty Images)
KOLKATA: It couldn’t have got better for Atanu Das. Just two months after getting hitched to India teammate Deepika Kumari, the Kolkata boy has been picked for the coveted Arjuna award.
Understandably, he is over the moon. “I am elated,” Atanu told TOI. He and Deepika are now a rare Arjuna award-winning couple. The Jharkhand girl was conferred with the Arjuna in 2012. Atanu will be the fourth archer from Bengal to receive the award after Krishna Das (1981), Dola Banerjee (2005) and Rahul Banerjee (2011).
“It has come at the right time,” he said. “It is a huge boost ahead of next week’s national camp in Pune,” Atanu said. The recurve archer is not surprised to find his name on the list. “I felt I could get it after our good show at the last World Championship,” he said. Incidentally, the Indian men’s recurve team comprising Tarundeep Rai, Praveen Jadhav and Atanu booked a Tokyo berth after making the quarterfinals there.
Atanu is now focused on winning India’s first Olympic medal in archery. “I want to bring an Olympic medal for India,” he said.
Although he was scheduled to join the national camp on August 25, Atanu will now postpone it in order to attend the virtual awards ceremony on August 29. “Deepika and I will travel together after the awards ceremony,” he informed.
The Olympian was also happy to know that coach Dharmendra Tiwary was honoured with the Dronacharya award. “I am happy for him too,” he said. “I feel it was long overdue for sir. He has done enormous service in bringing up archers in the country,” he said of the Tata Archery Academy coach.