Indian recurve archers had a blazing start on their return to the World Cup after nearly two years as India qualified straight to quarter-finals in the men’s and women’s team event besides mixed section in the opening stage in Guatemala City.
The women’s team topped the qualifications with Ankita Bhakat and Deepika Kumari’s super show. Atanu Das grabbed the second spot behind world No 1 Brady Elison to propel the men’s team to a third place finish while in mixed team Das and Kumari will be in action together for the first time after their marriage last year.
Das and Kumari, who have won many international medals together in the past, will take on France in the mixed team quarter-finals, while the top-seed women’s team will face hosts Guatemala in the last-eight. The men’s team will take on the winners of Spain and Guatemala in their last eight clash.
“Mixed team, you know, I like very much. If I get to play with Deepika then it’s awesome... We’d be the first couple to play in the Olympics. So it’s fun,” Das, who last won a mixed pair bronze with Kumari at the Asian Championships, told PTI.
India were playing on the World Cup circuit for the first time after their appearance in the Stage 4 in Berlin in July 2019. The Asian Championship in Bangkok in November 2019 was their last international appearance, albeit under the aegis of World Archery after the national federation was suspended.
“It’s been a while since we played any International tournaments because of Covid-19... So it’s a very good tournament, very good weather, and I really enjoyed shooting,” said Das.
The tournament serves as a preparation for the Tokyo Olympics in less than 100 days and the Indian men’s team, which has qualified, will look to make the most of it.
The jet-lagged Indians showed little sign of rustiness as Kumari led with 339 points at the halfway mark, four ahead of eventual topper Ana Vazquez and Bhakat.
But the former world No 1 fell off the pace in the back end, having to rush her last arrows as she along with Bhakat slotted in second and third places with 673 and 671 points respectively.
Reigning Under-18 world champion Komalika Bari took the 12th place with 659 points as the Indian women’s team comfortably grabbed the pole position, 14 points clear of Mexico to seal its last-eight place.
India No 1 Das finished 14 points behind USA’s Elison who dominated the qualification round to finish with 694 points, his second-highest ranking round score of his career.
A winner of two silver and one bronze medals at the Olympics, Ellison led Das by four points at the halfway break but made rapid progress in the back end to breach the psychological 690-barrier.
Pravin Jadhav (15th) and B Dhiraj (20th) made up for their third team rankings on a day senior most archer Tarundeep Rai finished 22nd with a poor show of 663 points.
Earlier, the federation withdrew the compound team of Asian champion duo Abhishek Verma and Jyothi Surekha on the eve of their departure after their coach had tested positive for coronavirus. However, it came to light that the coach had a false positive report at Sonepat but the damage had been done by then.
Delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Tuesday’s qualification round at the Sports Complex Los Arcos welcomed the start of the 15th season of the international circuit.
More than 18 months have passed since the most recent Archery World Cup Final took place in Moscow.
With PTI Inputs
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