Immediately after winning the compound individual gold medal at the Archery World Cup Stage One in Antalya, Jyothi Surekha Vennam said in the official interview that she was short of words. What she wasn’t short of in the last week in Turkey, was quality. And 10s. Oh, there were 10s.
After an epic week for India’s top compound archer, the highs were many. At the very start of the tournament, in the qualification round, she shot a World Record-equalling 713 out of 720 points. In that stunning score of 713 to equal Sara Lopez’s record, she shot an even more incredible 360 out of 360 in the second half.
“It felt really good to score 713 in qualification,” Jyothi told Scroll from Turkey.
“After 353 in the first half, to shoot a perfect 360 in the second was even more special. It is not something I have even managed to do in practice, so to do that at a World Cup stage directly was really special.”
“Yeah, I spoke to Sara,” she added. “She congratulated me after the 360.”
That was only the start.
From there, she went on to win gold medal in the mixed team event with Ojas Pravin Deotale. And saving perhaps the best for last, she defeated world No 1 Ella Gibson in the individual event semifinal and then shot a superb 149 to defeat the legendary Lopez, widely considered the greatest of all time in the sport, to be crowned the winner. At her 20th appearance of the World Cup Stage event, she finally won the individual gold.
That it came after a challenging 2022 only goes to highlight the 26-year-old’s resilience. Flashback one year, and Jyothi hadn’t even made the cut for the Indian team at the event in Antalya. Having missed out on the main squad because of a bad day during selection trials, she had to wait and watch from the outside. But if you have watched Jyothi in action, you’d know that she is not one to be overly emotional.
“Nothing drastically has changed. I guess mentally I am a bit more calm now,” Jyothi said. “I am not worried about results, whether it is a good arrow or a bad arrow. Just staying steady, irrespective of how I shoot.”
And even last year, when she got a chance to appear for one World Cup Stage in Paris, she won a mixed team gold and the individual silver, showing she was ready to grab the second chance that came her way.
“Yeah, the 2022 season helped me. It taught me to be always be ready for a chance and give it all. I have learned my lessons from there and just want to give my everything at these events,” she said.
But 2023 has started off as it should for the country’s best, probably best ever. She has been a part of the World Cup squads from the word go, and she couldn’t have asked for a better first stage. It has been a long time coming but finally, she can call herself an individual World Cup stage winner, a result that has already sealed her spot in the World Cup Final in Mexico in September. And she did so beating the legend that is Lopez with a remarkable 149 out of 150, dropping just a solitary 9 in the final.
Jyothi’s Medals - Outdoor Archery
World Archery University Championships: 1 Gold (Team - 2016)
World Archery Championships: (Caps: 8) 3 Silver (Individual - 2021; Team - 2021, 2017), 2 Bronze (Individual - 2019; Team - 2019)
World Archery Youth Championships: 1 Bronze (Team - 2013)
World Cup Final: 1 Silver (Team - 2018)
World Cup Stage: (Caps: 20) 3 Gold (Individual - 2023; Team - 2023, 2022), 3 Silver (Individual - 2022; Team - 2018, 2018), 4 Bronze (Team - 2018, 2018, 2018, 2018)
Universiades: (Caps: 3) 1 Silver (Team - 2015)— via World Archery profile
Even in the mixed team final, Jyothi and Ojas came within one point of the world record. Ojas shot one 9 otherwise, the Indians were heading for a best there too.
The statistical highlights, there were aplenty for Jyothi in Turkey.
“I can’t actually choose between them, the entire week was special,” she said, pausing for a few seconds when asked what made her the happiest this past week. “Every one of those moments felt good. Standing for the national anthem after winning gold was also great.”
Like the way she shoots, it is hard to get too much of a reaction from Jyothi when she is asked to speak about herself. But without any sense of over-confidence, her answer to whether this was the best week of her career was matter-of-fact.
“Abhi tak toh, haan (for now, it is). Hoping the competitions ahead are better.”
It is just Jyothi’s way.