It turned out to be a memorable day for the Indian women’s recurve team at the World Archery Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark on Tuesday. Led by Deepika Kumari, the Indian squad not only secured the coveted quota at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but also progressed to the final of the prestigious world meet.
Hopes, however, were dashed for the men’s recurve team after a closely-fought battle with the second-seeded Italians ended in a loss in the shoot-off for the trio of Rahul Banerjee, Jayanta Talukdar and Mangal Singh Champia.
Determined effort from Deepika Kumari, Rimil Buriuly and Laxmirani Majhi
All that the Indian women’s recurve team – seeded 10th – needed was a first round victory over the seventh-seeded Germans to assure themselves of a spot for Rio Olympics. And that did not come easily for Deepika Kumari, Laxmirani Majhi and Rimil Buriuly. The trio had to dig deep to bounce back from 1-3 and clinch a 5-3 win over the Germans in the pre-quarterfinals.
In an upset-filled competition, the Indian women next saw off 15th-seeded Colombia 6-2. The Colombians had stunned the second-seeded team of Chinese Taipei in the earlier round.
Deepika Kumari and her teammates needed another gutsy display to edge past the sixth-seeded Japanese in the semifinals. The Indians displayed a flawless performance, hitting a perfect 30 in the shoot-off. Thus, with the winning score of 5-4, they sealed a place in Sunday’s final against Russia.
The Russians were coming off a huge upset in the semis after overcoming the top-seeded Koreans in a thrilling tie-break.
More wait for the Indian men’s recurve team
The wait to bag an Olympic quota just got longer for the men’s recurve team of Rahul Banerjee, Jayanta Talukdar and Mangal Singh Champia. The Indians were ahead 4-2 and were on their way to inflicting a major shock on the higher-seeded Italians when they lost their grip with Mangal Singh Champia shooting a six.
That allowed the Italian team to rebound and they eventually won the match 5-4 with the shoot-off score being 29-26 in their favour.
With the team failing to grab an Olympic quota, the Indian men can still harbour hopes of getting a quota place in the individual category, if they perform well under pressure. The knock-out stages of the individual competition are scheduled on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the recurve mixed team of Deepika Kumari and Rahul Banerjee lost in the quarter-finals 4-5 to Chinese Taipei.
Compound teams fail to impress
The compound teams could not bring any joy as they lost their matches early in the knock-out stages and could not make it to the semis. The men’s compound team of Abhishek Verma, Rajat Chauhan and Kawal Preet Singh succumbed to a 224-232 defeat to the Danish team in the quarters.
The sixth-seeded women’s compound team of Vennam Jyothi Sureka, Lily Chanu and Purvasha Shende slumped to a surprising loss to the eleventh-seeded South Africans in the pre-quarterfinals. India went down 27-29 in the shoot-off.
It was an equally disappointing outing for the mixed compound team of Abhishek Verma and Vennam Jyothi Surekha. The fourth seeds surrendered 136-146 to the 13th-seeded Italians in the pre-quarters.
The spectacular show by Indian eves at the World Archery Championships certainly helped to erase the bitter memories of the Gwangju World University Games fiasco, where our compound archers missed competing in the bronze medal play-off. That incident led to the suspension of a top coach and three archers.
Here’s hoping the Indian contingent can get inspired from the emphatic performances of the women’s recurve team and do better in the individual competition.