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Archery WC: Indian men's recurve team in final

India stormed into the final of the men’s recurve team event for the first time in nine years after registering three wins in the ongoing Archery World Cup Stage 1 in Antalya, Turkey, on Thursday.

The trio of Atanu Das, B Dhiraj and Tarundeep Rai will face China in the gold medal clash on Sunday in pursuit of India’s first World Cup gold medal in the men’s recurve team event after 13 years.

India had more good news in store as premier compound archer Jyothi Surekha Vennam cruised into the individual semifinal.

Having topped the qualification with a world record-equalling score, the former World Championship silver medallist secured four wins in a row to set up a last-four clash against world number one Ella Gibson of England, slated on Saturday.

The men’s recurve team, which got a first-round bye after qualifying as the fourth seed, faced a stiff challenge to begin with a win as it defeated 13th seed Japan 5-4 with a 29-28 win in the shoot-off.

The Indians shot two perfect 10 from three attempts (10, 10, 9) to seal the issue in the tie-breaker after both the teams were locked 4-4 (49-52, 57-52, 54-51, 52-57) following four sets of intense shooting.

Thereafter, it was an easy sailing for the Indian trio that got past 12th seed Chinese Taipei and ninth seed Netherlands by identical 6-2 margins to set up a summit clash with second seed China.

It was an easy outing against Chinese Taipei as the Indian men’s recurve team raced to 4-0 lead before sealing the issue 6-2 (55-54, 57-54, 51-53, 58-56) with four 10s including an X (closer to the centre).

Next up were the Netherlands who were on a high after eliminating top-seed and tournament hosts Turkey (6-0), a team that included the reigning Olympic champion Mete Gazoz.

The Dutch raced to a 2-0 lead but the Indians came back strongly to win 6-2 (56-58, 57-53, 57-55, 56-54).

“We came here without any expectations. We wanted to do our best. But now we kind of expect gold,” Das said.

Making a comeback after about two years, Das added: “It feels amazing. Last year was not my year, but this year I came with good performance.” “I felt some pressure. Every round is different. Every time I got to the shooting line I was calculating the wind, if it was changing. I directed my team partners that followed me. We did a proper team work.”

Incidentally, it is at the same Mediterranean coastal resort of Antalya where the Indian men’s recurve team had tasted its first success in a World Cup way back in 2008.

The team of Jayanta Talukdar, Rahul Banerjee and Mangal Singh Champia defeated Malaysia rivals 218-215 en route to a maiden recurve men’s team gold medal in the World Cup.

Since then, the Indian men’s recurve team have won five gold medals in the World Cup. They had last won a World Cup gold medal in men’s recurve team event in Shanghai in 2010.

The 39-year-old Army man Rai was also a member of the gold-winning side in Shanghai when he along with Talukdar and Banerjee defeated Japan 224-220 in the final.

India reached the final twice in 2014 — Stage 2 Medellin and Stage 4 Wroclaw — but on both the occasions the team returned with silver medals. At Medellin, India lost to Korea in the tie-breaker, while Mexico won the gold medal clash with a 5-3 win in Wroclaw.

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Jyothi shines

Bringing her A game to play, the world number 11 Jyothi reeled off 145 points out of a possible 150 thrice in a row to defeat Myriam Hasler of Switzerland (137), Danelle Lutz of USA (141) and Mexico’s Ana Sofia Hernandez Jeon (138) without breaking sweat.

In the quarterfinal, Jyothi stepped her game further, shooting 147 with 12 perfect 10s, including five Xs (closer to the centre), from 15 arrows to defeat Taja Gellenthien of Denmark 147-142.

Jyothi is the only Indian to remain in the medal hunt in individual section, as all her compound teammates in men’s and women’s section made early exits.

It was the same story in the compound team events as the women’s trio of Jyothi, Avneet Kaur and Aditi Swami could not live up to their top billing and were ousted by USA 225-233 in their first round.

The sixth seeded compound men’s team, on the other hand, lost to Chinese Taipei 234-236 in their opening round.

The women’s recurve team of Bhajan Kaur, Ankita Bhakat and Simranjeet Kaur lost in the round of 16.The trio defeated Brazil 5-4 (56-53, 50-55, 52-54, 52-52, 24-19) in the shoot-off. But lost to Spain 2-6 (45-47, 56-51, 50-52, 53-55) in the second round.

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