World No. 9 Atanu Das held his nerve to stun former Olympic champion Jinhyek Oh of South Korea and advance to the third round of the men’s individu event in the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.
After getting past Chinese Taipei’s Yu-Cheng Deng 6-4 (27-26, 27-28, 28-26, 27-28, 28-26) in the first round, the Indian archer eliminated the third seed and London Olympics gold medallist Oh 6-5 (25-26, 27-27, 27-27, 27-22, 28-28, 10-9) in a nerve-wracking shoot-off in the second round.
Interestingly, Atanu had beaten the Korean heavyweight 6-5 through a shoot-off to pocket the bronze in the Asian championships in Bangkok in November 2019.
After a below-par performance in the men’s team event, the 29-year-old Atanu – egged on by his wife and ace archer Deepika Kumari from the stands – shot consistently good scores to keep Oh, 10 years older to him, under pressure and notched up a morale-boosting win.
Atanu, who lost the first set after scoring two 8s, staged a strong comeback to strike six consecutive 9s in the next two sets and shared the spoils.
Trailing 2-4, Atanu needed to win the fourth set to stay in the contest. With Oh shooting a 7, Atanu seized the opportunity to score a perfect 10 and levelled the scores.
Both archers recorded an identical series of 10, 9 and 9 in the fifth set to take the contest into a tie-breaker.
In the shoot-off, Oh shot a 9 while Atanu hammered a 10 to script a memorable win.
In the pre-quarterfinals on Saturday, Atanu meets Takaharu Furukawa of Japan.
In the opener, Atanu had the final say against Deng in a match of fluctuating fortunes. The Indian took the first and third sets, while the Chinese Taipei archer won the second and fourth.
Das shot 10, 9 and 9 in the decider, while Deng could only come up with 10, 9 and 7.