Indian archers claim compound men’s and women’s team gold
Continuing their domination of the discipline, they took their gold medal tally to three with scope for two wins.
India’s compound archers carried their mixed team form into the men’s and women’s team events, winning twin gold medals to mark another successful day at the Fuyang Yinhu Sports Centre in the Asian Games here on Thursday.
The women's team – they are the world champions – stamped their class in a testing final to edge out Chinese Taipei 230-229. The men’s trio of Pravin Deotale, Abhishek Verma and Prathamesh Jawkar had it relatively easy against South Korea, winning 235-230 in the final.
The women’s team – Aditi Swami, Jyothi Surekha and Parneet Kaur -- fell behind in the final by two points in the first series, logging only a solitary 10 in six attempts. Four 9s and a rare 8 meant they closed the opening sequence with 54 shots. Windy conditions meant India could not register a single perfect series while their opponents could shoot 60/60 only once.
“We are very happy because this is the first time we have won a gold medal in the Asian Games in the compound women’s category,” Surekha, the seniormost member, said. “There was wind which made the final challenging. We had to calm ourselves and focus on our shooting. We train to be our best even in worst conditions, irrespective of what the opponents shoot.”
Surekha is an eight-time World Championships medallist while young Aditi is the world champion. That helped them seal the title in the end. They began their campaign with a quarter-final win over Hong Kong (231-220) before beating Indonesia (233-219) in the semis. With the wind threat blowing, the summit clash became a tense affair.
“It was quite windy today. What made it all the more difficult was that the wind velocity was never consistent. Shooting in such conditions is never easy. It took immense concentration and skills from our archers to shoot gold today,” Sanjeeva Kumar Singh, India’s high performance director, said.
Parneet Kaur said: “There was some nervousness, but we just focussed on the shots and tried to keep ourselves in the match as much as possible. We did not focus on what the competitors were shooting and just tried to do our best.”
For Aditi, the medal was another glorious chapter in a year that has seen her win the youth and senior world championships. She will line up in the individual bronze medal contest on Saturday.
“The match was very tight. We were expecting gold and we did it. We were a bit nervous, but we trusted each other and pushed each other. Jyothi has long been an inspiration for us. It was a tough match, but she kept motivating us,” the 17-year-old said.
“We get along with each other very well. We have won our third medal together as a team. The first was at the World Championships, the second was at the World Cup, and now here. The more we practice with each other, the more attuned we become; and we know how to motivate each other and get together during the shots,” Praneet Kaur said.
Later, the men’s team made it a double delight for India. The men’s trio too couldn't shoot a perfect series but did enough to beat Korea by a five-shot margin. The Indians led in every series, and despite the Koreans shooting a perfect 60 in the last sequence, Ojas, Abhishek and Prathamesh had done enough to secure a third compound medal for India.
“We were quite sure of gold because we have been doing very well over the past year in the World Championships and in the World Cups. The Italian coach Sergio Pagni has been a game-changer too. He is our secret weapon,” Verma said.
Three gold medals in as many team events sets up the stage nicely for a five-gold haul with India competing in the two remaining individual finals. While Verma and Deotale have made it an all-India final, Surekha will look to make it a golden hat-trick when she lines up in the women's final against Korea's So Chae-won So on Saturday.
“We have a real chance of making it five gold medals in five events, which will be a big moment for the sport,” Singh said. “Twenty years ago, when we started this compound archery programme, people laughed at me. Compound archery is a discipline ideally suited to the Indian body type because we are not very tall or have great physical strength. It took me 20 years to bring us to the five gold medals stage. This year, we became the world champions in Berlin, we are World Cup gold medallists and now we have multiple gold medals here.”