Star India archer Deepika Kumari made it a perfect Sunday for her in Paris as she clinched three gold medals, winning every recurve event she was a part of at the World Cup Stage 3 tournament.
She won her second individual women’s recurve World Cup gold of 2021 and had earlier been a part of the mixed and women’s gold-winning Indian teams on the final day in French captial.
“I’m happy, but at the same time I have to continue my performance like this,” Deepika told World Archery at the end of her third final. “I want to improve that, because the upcoming tournament is very, very important to us [the Olympics]. India have not won an archery medal in Olympic Games. I’m trying my best to continue learning whatever I can.”
The world No 3, who is expected to become No 1 on Monday in the new rankings, defeated Ana Vazquez of Mexico 29-28, 29-26, 29-29, 27-27 to enter the final and put herself one win away from winning her third gold medal of the day. The final was a more straightforward affair as she defeated Russia’s Elena Osipova 29-26, 29-28, 28-27.
In the first final of the day Indian women’s recurve archery team comprising Deepika, Ankita Bhakat and Komalika Bari clinched their second World Cup gold medal of 2021, defeating Mexico in the final in Paris on Sunday. Later, Deepika paired with Atanu Das to clinch the recurve mixed team gold medal as well, for the pair’s first triumph together at the world stage.
First up, the Indian trio triumphed 57-57, 55-52, 55-54 against the top seeds from Mexico in the team event.
Up against Aida Roman, Ana Vazquez and Alejandra Valencia, the Indians started steadily with Ankita and Komalika shooting 10s but followed by an 8 by Deepika. But with the set on the line and needing a 10 to make sure her team didn’t trail 0-2, the Indian star produced the perfect score. The second and third sets saw other archers struggle but Deepika kept finding the center of the target with repetition and fittingly clinched the gold medal in three sets with a 10 from her bow.
In the Guatemala World Cup, the final between India and Mexico was a thriller that went down to the wire where Deepika shot a 10 in the shootoff to clinch gold.
The Indian team had lost to lower-ranked Colombia last Sunday to miss the Olympic team qualification quota that was at stake in Paris. That result meant Deepika would be the only Indian woman competing at the Olympics.
But overcoming the setback, the Indian team stormed into the final of the World Cup (which is not part of the Tokyo qualification process). They were second seeds in the event, finishing behind Mexico in the qualification round. On Friday, they dropped only a set before defeating sixth-ranked France 6-2 in the semi-finals. Before that, they overcame 15th seed Spain in the second round and then Turkey in the third, both by margins of 6-0.
Later, the husband-wife combo of Deepika and Atanu clinched their first World Cup gold medal as a pair. The recurve mixed team is going to make its debut at the Tokyo 2020 and the pair warmed up for it in fine fashion overcoming Netherlands from a set down, to win 37-38, 36-33, 39-37, 38-38.
The second set was a bit wild from the Dutch pair of Gabriela Schloesser and Sjef Van Den Berg while the Indians kept their targets close to the center for the most part. The fourth set needed to be a tie for India to clinch gold, and Deepika finished with a 9 to do just that.
The duo had won bronze medal, beating USA, in the first World Cup of the season in Guatemala.
“It feels amazing. First time we are playing together (in the final) and won together, feel so happy,” Atanu said after their win.
The couple would be celebrating their first wedding anniversary on June 30.
“We are made for each other. But in the ground we are not couple but like just other competitors, we motivate, support and back each other,” Atanu added when asked about competing in the event with his partner.
This was also a first mixed pair gold medal for the former world number one Deepika who has five silver and three bronze medals in the event. Her last mixed pair final appearance was also with Atanu in Antalya World Cup 2016. The duo had lost to Korea.
Trailing 0-2, India had commanding opening round scores of 19 with Atanu starting off with another perfect 10 to put pressure on the Dutch team which managed 16 to give a three-point advantage midway into the second set.
Atanu and Deepika shot 9 and 8 respectively in the second round to level it 2-2 at the halfway stage.
In the back end, Deepika found her golden touch to shoot two perfect 10s including one X as the duo dropped just one point to take the third set 39-37 for a 4-2 lead.
Needing a tie to clinch the issue in the fourth set, the duo found some resistance from the Dutch pair and the two teams were locked 19-19 at the halfway mark.
Van den Berg and Schloesser put together another 19 in the final round but Atanu held his nerves for a perfect 10 before Deepika seized the moment with a 9.
On Saturday, India opened their tally in Paris as veteran compound archer Abhishek Verma stunned American heavyweight Kris Schaff in a shoot-off to bag a gold medal in the men’s individual event. He was the only Indian compound archer in contention for a medal at the event and booked his place at the season-ending World Cup Final.
India thus finished the final World Cup stage on the archery circuit for 2021 with four gold medals out of four finals they competed in.
(With PTI inputs)
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