The Olympic quota already booked, the Indian's men's recurve team reached the final of the World Archery Championships for the first time since 2005 after it shocked the formidable Netherlands here Thursday. The Indian team will be seeking its maiden title as it faces China in the summit clash on Sunday. China ousted top seed Korea 6-2 in the other semifinal Thursday.
A day after securing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics three-man quota by making the quarterfinals, the India trio of Tarundeep Rai, Atanu Das and Pravin Jadhav held their nerves to come from behind and win 29-28 in the shoot-off for an overall score of 5-4. This is the second time ever when the men's recurve team reached the World Championships final. At Madrid 2005, the Indian team comprising Rai, Jayanta Talukdar and Gautam Singh had lost to Korea 232-244 in the summit clash.
India also remained in the medal contention in the women's compound team event as the trio of Jyothi Surekha Vennam, Muskan Kirar and Raj Kaur face Turkey in the bronze medal playoff Saturday. Asian Games silver medalist Jyothi will also fight for a second bronze when she takes on world number two Yesim Bostan of Turkey in the third-place play-off on Saturday.
Having thrashed Chinese Taipei 6-0 in the quarterfinals, the Indian men's recurve team found a strong challenge from the second-seeded home team led by world number two Steve Wijler, a bronze medallist two years ago in Mexico City. The other two players of Netherlands were 2016 Rio Olympics semifinalist Sjef van den Berg and London 2012 semifinalist Rick.
The Indians twice trailed in the match but spearheaded by Rai, who was a member of the silver-winning team at the Madrid World Championship 14 years ago, the trio showed character to bounce back each time and forced the match to the shoot-off. Using the conditions better than the home team, the Indians shot a near-perfect 29 out of 30 to edge out the Netherlands by one point.
This was also for the first time since 2014 the Indian men's team reached the final of a world event. India had ended up with a silver at the Wroclaw Stage IV World Cup in 2014 with Rai, Das and Jayanta Talukdar in the team. The Indian team last won a gold in a World Cup event nine years ago at the World Cup Stage IV in Shanghai with Rai being a member of that team also.
"He's our great motivation now. It's a great moment for us," Das said after the match, giving credit to senior teammate Rai. "Last few years, I was struggling in all the three events -- individual, mixed pair and team events. I was up to the mark but not able to put up any medal-winning show. I tried harder and harder and finally, it happened."
Asked about the summit clash against China, Das said, "We will give our best show. We are really proud." The Netherlands grabbed a 2-0 lead with two perfect 10s, including one X (closest to centre), to win the first set 56-54.
But the home team had a poor opening in the second set with scores of 6, 8 and 8 as the Indians seized the momentum to win 52-49 and bring the match on an even keel (2-2). Not ready to give up easily, the Netherlands' trio had a near flawless third set with one 10 and two Xs to snatch a 4-2 lead before winning by one point (57-56).
The Indians then produced their best show of the match with four perfect 10s including two Xs to level the match 4-all for an exciting shoot-off finish. Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Jyothi's dream run was halted by Paige Pearce of the USA as she suffered a poor start to lose by three points (140-143).
In the pre-quarterfinals, Jyothi stunned former world youth champion and tournament top seed Tanja Jensen of Denmark in a thrilling two-way tie-break after they were locked 146-all. In the first tie-break, both of them shot X (10-10) as the Vijayawada girl remained undeterred and produced yet another perfect score to edge out her opponent by one point (10-9).
Continuing her giant-killing run, Jyothi ousted Sarah Prieels of Belgium 147-141 in the quarterfinals. Among other compound individual entries, Abhishek Verma, Rajat Chauhan and Bhagwan Das all made third round exits, while Muskan Kirar, who had a seventh-place finish in the ranking round, lost out in the quarterfinal.
Compound mixed pair of Muskan and Verma went down to their Korean opponents by just one point (155-156) to make a quarterfinal exit. In the recurve individual section, Tarundeep Rai made a pre-quarterfinal exit, losing to Sjev van den Berg 3-7, while Deepika lost to Alejandra Valencia 4-6 in the third round.
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