Gold rush for India as archers bag four
South Asian Games defending champion Tarundeep Rai and Gurucharan Besra along with former world number one Deepika Kumari and Bombayla Devi Laishram stormed into the final of recurve men's and women's sections respectively in the morning session at the Polo Ground.
In the afternoon session, Abhishek Verma and Rajat Chauhan posted contrasting wins, while Purvasha Shende and Jyoti Surekha secured easy victories in the men's and women's semis in the compound section to confirm their final berths.
It will be an all-Indian affair in the individual compound and recurve finals on February 8 and 9 as India have so far ensured four gold and four silver medals.
A confident India head coach Dharmendra Tiwary said, "Now there's no stopping for us. I was only concerned about a setback in the individual sections but all of them did overwhelmingly well. A clean sweep of 10 gold medals is certainly on the cards."
Having qualified as the top seed and getting a bye into the quarters, Rai warded off a stiff challenge from Bhutanese Kinly Tshering 6-5 before downing Prem Prasad Pun of Nepal 6-2.
Rai took a 4-0 lead beating Pun 27-24, 28-26 in the first two ends before the Nepalese pulled one back with 28-27, but the Sikkimese archer sealed the issue 29-27 in the fourth end.
Rai is not taking his Army colleague Besra lightly as the Jharkhand archer is coming back to an international competition for the first time since 2001. Besra, incidentally, had given Rai nightmares in the final of the National Games in January last year by taking the match into the tie-breaker before the latter clinched the gold. "It will be a 50-50 game. Each of us know our strength and weakness. It will be all about shooting well on the given day," Rai said.
In the women's recurve, Olympic hopeful and former world no 1 Deepika stamped her class to outplay Beauty Ray of Bangladesh 6-0 to set up a final clash against Bombayla.
"We've played many times against each other. Let's hope for the best," Deepika, who has been picked for the Padma Bhushan Award this year, said.
Having got a bye into the quarters, Deepika first ousted Sonam Deki of Bhutan 6-2 before blanking the Bangladeshi with ease. Second seeded Bombayla, on the other hand, survived a scare against Sri Lankan Anuradha Karunaratne, who took the match to tie-breaker after they were locked 5-5. Bombayla sealed the issue 6-5 with a 10-8 win in the tiebreaker. In the semis, Bombayla and Karma of Bhutan were levelled 2-2 before the former clinched it 6-2.
In the compound section which has been introduced for the first time in the SA Games, the Indian team reigned supreme.
A historic silver medallist in the World Cup Final, Verma of Delhi beat Kishore Kumar Gurung 144-138 in the quarters before ousting Tshewang Dorji 148-135 in the semis, to set up a clash against teammate Chauhan.Chauhan also had little difficulty as he outplayed Udaya Indrajith 146-134 in the last eight and in the semis he showed Tashi Deljor of Bhutan the exit door with a close 145-142 win.
In the compound women's section with a draw of only eight, Indian duo Purvasha and Jyothi got a bye into the semis.
Purvasha beat Tammanna Parvin 139-133, while Jyothi took down Bangladesh’s Sushmita Banik 145-134.