World championships: Compound archers provide India a silver lining

The good showing of the compound archers, and the decent performance of their recurve mates in Yankton hold the Indians in good stead ahead of the Asian championships in Dhaka in November and the Asian Games in Hangzhou in China next year.

Creditable show: Jyothi Surekha and Abhishek Verma bagged the mixed team silver.   -  Special Arrangement

The Indian archers’ performance in the World championships in Yankton, USA, provided a perspective of their standing in the run-up to bigger events, including the Asian Games next year and the Paris Olympics in 2024.

No doubt, the compound archers’ fabulous showing at the World championships, where they secured three silver medals for the first time, was the biggest highlight for India. Experienced archer V. Jyothi Surekha’s hand in all three silver medals was the obvious headline of that unprecedented showing.

The recurve archers may have returned empty-handed, but the young archers showed a lot of promise in the big event and gave an indication of their bright future.

READ: Surekha and Verma to lead India's charge at Asian Archery Championship

Looking ahead, the Archery Association of India (AAI) gambled by sending a recurve squad full of youngsters, including several medal winners in the World youth championships in August.

The men’s team of Parth Salunkhe, Aditya Choudhary and Atul Verma lost to Chinese Taipei 5-3 in the second round.

The women’s side, including Ankita Bhakat and Ridhi and Komalika Bari, was beaten 6-2 by Mexico in the quarterfinals.

In individual events, Ankita — who got past three opponents including Tokyo Olympics and World championships team gold medallist Korean Kang Chae Young (who had eliminated World junior champion Komalika in the previous round) 6-4 in the pre-quarterfinals — was the lone recurve archer to make it to the quarterfinals, where she lost to eventual silver medallist Casey Kaufhold of the USA.

Aditya was best among the men reaching the fourth round in the individual competition.

“The entire recurve team was packed with youngsters. Ankita making it to the quarterfinals, Aditya reaching the pre-quarters and the women’s team reaching the quarterfinals are good results. This shows where we are today, this is our baseline. They achieved these results despite the changing wind and cold conditions,” said high performance director Sanjeeva Singh.

“We produced these results without any acclimatisation as our archers reached there just a day before the competition. The world has noticed us. We are among the top sides at the junior level. We will draw a roadmap and will win medals in Paris 2024,” asserted Singh.

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Sanjeeva had a word of praise for the experienced compound archers for their medal winning performances. “Our compound archers performed really well and made us proud,” he said.

Jyothi, who had won a team silver in 2017 and bronze medals in individual and team events in 2019, combined well with Muskan Kirar and World youth champion Priya Gurjar to take the women’s team silver. The trio had also claimed a team silver in the Asian championships in Bangkok two years ago.

Jyothi joined hands with her long-time shooting partner Abhishek Verma to bag the mixed team silver. She lost to Sara Lopez of Colombia 146-144 to add an individual silver, the second such medal for the country after Rajat Chauhan’s silver in 2015, thus securing a rare treble. She has contributed to six of the seven compound medals won by India at the World championships so far.

Interestingly, the Indians lost all three finals to Colombians.

Jyothi shrugged off her disappointing performance (primarily due to lack of practice owing to the pandemic) in the World Cup to achieve some personal milestones. She was extremely delighted to have scored a perfect 150 in an elimination round match for the first time in the World championships.

She also had her first mixed team medal after losing the bronze medal playoff eight years ago.

India is the only country that has collected most medals, seven silver and two bronze, but never won a gold in the World championships.

The good showing of the compound archers, and the decent performance of their recurve mates in Yankton hold the Indians in good stead ahead of the Asian championships in Dhaka in November and the Asian Games in Hangzhou in China next year.