For over two months after his failure to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Atanu Das went on vacations, talked to his wife Deepika Kumari about starting a family to ensure that there was more to life for them than just archery and only picked up the bow and arrow when he made his peace with his disappointment.
Atanu then changed his approach in training and even travelled to different locations to get back into his groove. Late on Thursday evening, here at the Sanskardam Sports Complex near Ahmedabad, the West Bengal archer's tribulations came to an end as he won the Men's Individual Recurve gold, beating Gurcharan Besra of Services in the gold medal match of the 36th National Games.
Not too surprisingly, he whooped like a child and unabashedly celebrated his triumph.
"The upcoming year is very important for us. This gold is reassuring that my preparations are on the right track. You can say I am an upgraded version of myself. 'Thoda chillana kam kar diya hoon' (Have stopped shouting now). But when I do something big, you will see me shouting in excitement," he added.
Atanu Das, who had lost to Japan's Takaharu Furukawa of Japan in Tokyo, hasn't been able to make it to the Indian squad since then and was also dropped from the Target Olympic Podium scheme.
Though the 30-year-old is disappointed with how things turned out after the Tokyo Games, he said the changes in his personal life have also made him a lot calmer. Atanu Das and Deepika Kumari are expecting their first child in December this year and he is definitely excited to start this new phase of life.
"After I lost at the Olympics, the burden was too much for me to bear. You train all your life for that one moment. And then when you experience defeat, particularly knowing well that you were good enough to win a medal, it gets too much.
"Both Deepika and me tried to neutralise this by focusing on our personal life," said Atanu Das, adding he has understood the importance of staying calm and not allowing anything to overwhelm him.
"Earlier I would get affected by things people would say. Not so much now," he added.
Since returning to training, Atanu Das has moved from Shillong to Kolkata via Pune and Jabalpur to try and train in different conditions and has also focused on endurance and strength building. He has also added a lot more variety in his training schedule to avoid making it monotonous and also to prepare him for knock out matches.
"It is quite different when you stand at that shooting line during a match. Things don't always go according to plan," said Atanu Das, who managed to raise the bar after being locked 4-4 with Gurcharan Besra.
He came up with two consecutive 10s and a nine on the third was enough to clinch the title.
Haryana bagged the rest of the gold medals - Men's and Women's Team, Women's Individual and Mixed Doubles - to dominate the recurve events.
Their women's team defeated Jharkhand in the shootout while the men got a walkover from Services in the final.
Earlier, Sangeeta had opened their gold medal account in recurve events by beating Anishka Kumari Singh of Jharkhand in the individual final.
The mixed doubles combination of Akash and Bhajan Kaur then defeated Maharashtra's Gaurav Lambe and Charuta Kamalapur in the shoot-out to round off the gold medal count.
Team: Haryana bt Services w/o; Bronze: Maharashtra
Individual: Atanu Das (West Bengal) bt Gurcharan Besra (Services) 6-4; Bronze: Tarundeep Rai (Services)
Team: Haryana bt Jharkhand 4(28)-4(27); Bronze: Gujarat
Individual: Sangeeta (Haryana) bt Anshika Kumari Singh (Jharkhand) 6-2; Bronze: Simranjeet Kaur (Punjab)
Mixed team: Akash/Bhajan Kaur (Haryana) bt Gaurav Lambe/Charuta Kamalapur (Maharashtra) 4(19)-4(16); Bronze: Jayanta Talukar/Komalika Bari (Jharkhand)