Paddler Archana Kamath qualifies for Youth Olympics

Archana Girish Kamath defeated Malaysia’s Chang Alice Li Sian 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 in the final of 2018 Youth Olympic Games qualifiers in Cook Islands.

A cautious Archana dropped just one game in the final before overpowering Malaysia’s Chang Alice Li Sian 4-1 to seal her berth at the Youth Olympics 2018.   -  R. Ragu

Paddler Archana Girish Kamath registered a 4-1 (11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8) win over Malaysian Chang Alice Li Sian in the Oceania leg of the 2018 Youth Olympic Games qualifying series here.

Archana, who improved her ranking to No. 12 in the world, on Friday qualified for the Buenos Aires Games in her last chance after having failed to seal her berth at Rades (Tunisia) and Bangkok (Thailand) despite reaching the semifinals in the latter.

Archana, who arrived at the venue on Wednesday after a 36-hour journey, put behind her weariness and concentrated on the job at hand, quickly going for a practice session, with chief coach Massimo Costantini.

The top-seeded Indian had a first-round bye, but in the second round it was tough against the Philippines’ Jannah Maryam Romeron, who went ahead with a 2-0 lead posing a lot of problems for Archana.

However, the determined Indian won the crucial third game with a minimal margin and the next on extended points to restore parity.

From there, Archana went on to dominate the match to win 11-13, 8-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-7, 11-3 to enter the semifinals.

In the semifinals, it was an easy affair for the world No. 12 as she beat Iran’s Mahshid Ashtari 11-2, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 and in the final, a cautious Archana dropped just one game before overpowering Malaysia’s Chang Alice Li Sian 4-1(11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8) to seal her berth.

“I am really happy for Archana,” said Costantini in an official release. “It was worth the trip to Cook Islands,” the Italian added.

In the men’s singles, Manav Thakkar has already qualified for the Youth Olympics to be held in October.