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2017- 18: overcoming game-time anxiety=
In mid-2017, India’s Deepak Kumar — who clinched silver in the men’s 10m air rifle event at the Asian Games in Palembang on Monday — had thought of quitting the sport he loved the most. Battling anxiety and depression, self-doubt had started creeping in about whether he was good at his game.
Coming close to winning a medal but letting the opportunity slip by had become routine for him. Restless, Deepak, who hails from Jagatpur village in Delhi’s Burari, randomly searched the Internet for a psychological boost. The 30-year-old Air Force sergeant came across the profile of Dr Patrick J Cohn, who is the president and founder of Peak Performance Sports in Orlando, Florida. Deepak didn’t know anything about Cohn prior to this search.
Deepak mailed him about his problem, not even sure of getting a reply. But, to his amazement, Cohn did reply within days and helped Deepak overcome his game-time anxiety. The process of exchanging mails, which started in mid-2017, hasn’t stopped till date, but the mental grooming by Cohn has transformed Deepak from an also-ran to a top-level shooter.
In November last year, Deepak won a bronze at the Commonwealth Championships in Australia and, a month later, a team silver with Ravi Kumar and Gagan Narang at the Asian Airgun Championships in Japan. Earlier this year, he clinched a bronze with Mehuli Ghosh at the Guadalajara World Cup in Mexico. But the Asiad medal on Monday truly marked the arrival of Deepak on the big stage, as this is his first major individual medal.
“I was just surfing the Internet for some psychological help and came through the profile of Dr Cohn. I have never met and spoken to him…don’t know how he looks. We are still in touch and, trust me, he hasn’t charged me a single penny for all his advice. I will only say destiny has been kind to me having given me this opportunity. I have overcome my fears,” Deepak told TOI from Palembang.
“Actually, I’ll like to give the credit to three important persons in my life who shaped up my career. My coach Manoj Kumar (from Air Force who also coach 10m air rifle specialist Ravi Kumar), mentor Acharya Dhananjaya and Dr Cohn,” added Deepak, who will be leaving for South Korea on Tuesday for the World Championships.
Deepak was only 11 when he was sent to a gurukul in Dehradun by his father to pursue spirituality. For next 10 years, Acharya Dhananjaya mentored him as Deepak studied yoga, Vedas and Sanskrit. In the eight-man final in Palembang, Deepak, who once pursued archery and even represented Uttarakhand, wasn’t in the medal hunt until the 18th shot when he shot a 10.9 to push Chinese Taipei’s Lu Shaochuan to the third position.