Indian men shoot down historic archery gold

IndianMenINCHEON: Indian men archers today brought enormous cheers to the country’s contingent as they bagged the first-ever gold in Asian Games archery after stunning hosts South Korea to lift the title in the non-Olympic Compound event, which has made its debut here.

This is India’s second gold medal in the ongoing Games after shooter Jitu Rai earned the top position on the first day of the competition.

Men’s trio of Rajat Chauhan, Sandeep Kumar and Abhishek Verma, coming from different states and backgrounds, worked wonderfully well in unison right through the 24-arrow finals to emerge triumphant by two points, 227-225.

Having pocketed the gold, the team celebrated and waved in delight to the Indian fans present at the Gyeyang Asiad Archery Field.

This was the second medal of the day from the venue, and came just one hour after the young Indian women’s trio of Trisha Deb, Purvasha Shende and Jyothi Surekha clinched the bronze medal by winning the play-off against Iran 224-217.

The compound team thus made vast amends after a disappointing show put up by the Indian recurve team, which consisted of better known archers.

This is the first time India won a gold in the bow and arrow event.

“We have been noticing India’s position on the medals table every day and were determined to win the gold today. We are delighted to have done it,” said Jaipur-based Chauhan, who claimed he failed in 12th standard exams on four occasions.

Coach Ranjan Singh from Manipur cited the preparations of the team ahead of the Games as one of the reasons for the result.

“We went to Salt Lake City in the USA and trained under top coach De Wilde for 15 days. Then we came and trained in South Korea in different weather conditions at Gwangju which is four hours’ drive from here for a month before reaching here for the Games,” said Singh, a former junior national champion. Verma, the Delhi Income Tax employee who had reached the individual semifinals, which is to be held later, said, “I knew how to perform under pressure after losing in the World Cup final. We are all delighted to win the gold. We were not overawed by our opponents.

“We have been preparing for this for two years. This is our biggest ever victory,” said Haryana-born Army Sports Institute (Pune) naik subedar Sandeep Kumar, who took up the sport only after joining the services ranks three years ago.

The Indians led right through the gold medal contest. The wind direction kept shifting but the trio held its composure to emerge on top.

The Indians led 55-54 after the first set of six arrows from each team, were ahead 113-111 after the second set, held on to the lead by two points (171-169) before a horrid seven from one of the Korean team members in the fourth and final set virtually sealed the gold in their favor.

After the first set of three arrows had been fired by both the teams in the last set, India were ahead by three points (199-196) thanks to the shocking seven shot by the Koreans.

Though the host team did slightly better than India (29-28) in the last round of three arrows, the lead was too big to bridge.

Earlier, the more inexperienced women too nailed the bronze with a clinically efficient show against Iran.

Kolkata-based Trisha and the Vijayawada-based 18-year-old B Tech student Jyoti Surekha as well as 16-year-old Maharashtra-born 11th standard pupil Purvasha kept their cool and had the edge over their rivals right through the bronze medal play-off clash.

The Indian girls, led Iran, playing the game with a scarf around their face, 56-53 after the first set of six arrows each, and though the second went in Iran’s favor (55-54), they recovered to clinch the third and fourth sets by 57-54, 57-55 margins to clinch the bronze in a very convincing fashion.

“We are very pleased to win the bronze. Our next target is to do well in the world championships next year,” said Jyoti Surekha who also said she switched over to the compound event as it does not need as much practice as the recurve weapon.

“I have to combine my B Tech studies with practicing archery. In this I need to practice for 2-3 hours only on a daily basis,” said the mechanical engineering student who took to the sport seven years ago.

Purvasha, originally from Amravati, said she shifted base to Vijaywada as there were no facilities in her home town.

“I have shifted to Vijayawada to practice at the Volga archery academy there. I took up the sport five years ago and am very happy to win the team bronze,” said Purvasha.

Trisha, coming from a very modest background in Kolkata, credited the brother-sister duo of Rahul and Dola Banerjee for their encouragement to her.

“Dola is my idol,” said the 23-year-old archer who has also reached the semi finals of the individual even held later today. -PTI

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