Indian archers made merry on their return to the international stage, bagging three gold medals and a bronze at the Archery World Cup Stage 1 in Guatemala City on Sunday. This is also India's best-ever showing in terms of medals at the Archery World Cup.
Atanu Das and Deepika Kumari led the show with individual recurve gold medals while the third gold medal came from the women’s recurve team. The only bronze came from the mixed pair who defeated USA. With this win, both Atanu and Deepika qualify automatically for this season’s Archery World Cup Final.
While it was former World No.1 Deepika’s third individual gold medal at the Archery World Cup – she has won gold medals in Antalya 2012 and Salt Lake City in 2018 – her husband Atanu clinched his first at the Archery World Cup.
The previous best for Atanu was his fourth-place finish in Antalya in 2016, losing to Kim Woojin in a bronze playoff match. The last time any Indian won gold at the Archery World Cup men’s recurve event was Jayanta Talukdar in Croatia in 2009.
Deepika Kumari beats Mackenzie Brown in the final
Deepika got the better of Mexico’s Alejandra Valencia 7-3 in the semifinals while Mackenzie Brown downed Madalina Amaistroaie of Romania in a shoot-off in the other semifinal. The Indian started with a bang against Brown, leading 3-1 after two sets. However, the American restored parity with a 29 and 29 in the next two sets respectively.
Deepika, who has represented India in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, shot 29 in the fifth. Shooting first, Deepika shot a nine, nearly a centimeter out of the 10-ring to the right. Brown missed the bus when her arrow went wide of Deepika’s in the left gifting the Indian her third gold medal in the competition's history.
“It’s been a long time since I shot in the finals,” Deepika said. “It feels great and, at the same time, I’m happy and nervous. It gives me confidence and pushes me to give better performances. The most difficult part was the heart-beating sound, which made me really nervous.”
Atanu Das dominated proceedings from the start at the Archery World Cup
In the men’s recurve event, Atanu was more dominating the pack. Up against Mexican Angel Alvarado, Atanu assured himself of a medal by outshining his opponent 6-2 in the semifinals before triumphing over Spaniard Daniel Castro in the 6-4 summit clash.
“It feels amazing. It’s like dreams are coming true. I’ve worked so hard for so many years, and now this is paying off,” Atanu told the World Archery website. “It’s beautiful. It’s a big boost for me. The Olympics are this year, and I’m working in the right way.”
Earlier, India started brilliantly with the women’s team of Deepika, Ankita Bhakat and Komalika Bari clinching the title after seven long years. They scripted a brilliant comeback to edge Mexico 5-4 (27-26) in a tight shoot-off.
Ankita also partnered Atanu at the mixed team event, bringing home a bronze by shocking USA 6-2 at the Sports Complex Los Arcos. The international action shifts to Archery World Cup Stage 2 in three weeks time in the Olympic capital of Lausanne, Switzerland.