Indian archers continue to shine in the World Archery Youth Championships in Wroclaw, Poland, winning five titles in the recurve competition. They had also won three titles in the team compound competitions a day earlier.
Leading their charge in the recurve competition was their rising star Komalika Bari. She defeated Elia Canales of Spain, 7-3, to secure the under-21 world title, just two years after winning the under-18 crown in Madrid.
“It’s a great, great happiness for me. I’m feeling very happy that I achieved this medal. Cadet champion and now a junior champion,” said Komalika.
Winning the titles back to back matches the record of another talented archer from India. Deepika Kumari did the very same thing exactly 10 years ago – and took the second of the two crowns at a field only one hour’s drive away from this week’s competition venue, in the Polish city of Legnica.
Komalika, now 19, needed some time to get into her finals match against Canales.
As her confidence began to grow, so did her scores.
While Elia seemed to have a wayward arrow in each set, Bari looked on point, closing with three consecutive sets of 29. The first levelled the match, the second saw her pull ahead, and the third secured victory.
“I started and shot one set, then told myself, ‘now I have to shoot well’. I focused on my process and did my best,” said Komalika afterwards.
There’s no doubt that Komalika has talent.
Having already qualified to shoot on the team at this September’s senior world championships – and now matching Deepika’s impressive youth record – parallels will, undoubtedly, be drawn.
Komalika downplayed her current status.
“I’m on the process to be the star, but I think there are more archers who can get motivation from this. More archers that can become cadet champions, junior champions,” she said. “India would be top!”
The silver medal is Canales’ second important runner-up finish – after the Youth Olympics in 2018.
German Olympian Charline Schwarz was impressive in the bronze medal match, landing nine of her 12 arrows in the yellow to take a four-set win over Casey Kaufhold, the US 17-year-old who also recently competed at the Olympics in Tokyo.
As soon as the under-21 recurve women’s podium was decided, the men took to the finals arena to contest the last medal matches of these championships.
Japanese archer Tetsuya Aoshima bested Stanislav Cheremiskin of Russia in the final.
“This is the first time I advance to the final and I’m very happy I won,” said Tetsuya.
Opening with a set of 29 points and following with a 27, against Cheremiskin’s pair of 24s, Aoshima easily took the first two sets.
He had an early opportunity to secure the title – but the nerves hit and he landed a seven with his third arrow of the third set. It only extended the match one more series.
Tetsuya retained control and wouldn’t be denied a second time. He shot a nine to claim his first world title, 6-2, in Wroclaw.
“In the third set, I was very nervous. I thought I was going to win so I missed the shot,” he explained.
Jonathan Vetter of Germany beat Buianto Osorov of Russia, 7-3, to bronze.
India took two more gold medals in the recurve under-21 team events.
Dhiraj Bommadevara, Aditya Choudhary and Parth Sushant Salunkhe took down Yun Sanchez, Manuel Santos del Valle and Jose Solera into a four-set final to win the men’s team world title, 5-3.
The Spaniards won the first set but couldn’t keep pace afterwards. India took advantage of a wayward six from Manuel in the fourth to close it out.
Salunkhe, paired with Komalika Bari, also beat Spain in the mixed team gold medal match.
Bari and Salunkhe lost the first set to Elia Canales and Yun Sanchez, but slowly started to build their confidence, taking one point in the second and then winning the last two to celebrate yet another big win for India on an important day for the nation.
The women’s team final between Japan and Russia went to a tiebreaker after the teams finished tied after regulation.
A lone nine was the difference for Juri Shibuya, Waka Sonoda and Mao Watanabe, with all the other five arrows on both targets scoring eights, as they took the world crown for Japan.
Iban Bariteaud and Caroline Lopez of France beat Denmark’s Ludvig Henriksen and Turkey’s Ceren Kocur in their respective gold medal matches to be crowned the new recurve under-18 world champions in Wroclaw, Poland.
“It’s been a dream since I was a child and my dream has finally come true. I haven’t realised it yet but I want to celebrate with everyone,” said Iban.
Caroline said the title was “incredible”.
“It’s a perfect shoot today. I shot as usual, and the technique followed, and it paid off,” said Caroline.
In the boys’ final against Henriksen, Bariteaud won both opening sets to open a comfortable lead.
He had opportunities to finish the match in the third – and then the fourth, but couldn’t deliver quite what was necessary, taking only one of the four available set points.
“On each of my last arrows I was so nervous. I should have ended it in the third set, but what really matters is that I won at the end,” he said. Iban took advantage of a six from his opponent in the fifth to finally close out the win.
“I might be young but there’s been a lot of hard work over the past few years. I hope what’s coming next will be even better,” he said.
India’s Bishal Chagmai took a five-set win over Dauletkeldi Zhangbyrbay of Kazakhstan to secure the last spot on the podium.
Caroline Lopez’s final also went the full five sets.
She was behind, 4-2, after three sets – and Ceren Kocur looked like she would cruise to victory. But something switched in Caroline’s demeanour and the groups on the target tightening.
She shot a perfect 30 in the fourth to set up a fifth-set decider.
Shooting first, the top seed opened with a pair of nines, both matched by Kocur. With her third and last arrow, she delivered a winning 10.
The same from Ceren would force a tiebreak – but her last shot was an eight.
“I had a bit of stress as you’ll never know what the opponent might shoot after, so yes a bit of stress on the last arrow,” said Caroline.
India, represented by Manjiri Manoj Alone, secured bronze over the Netherland’s Quinty Roeffen in another thriller, 6-4.
The individual win was Caroline’s second gold medal of the morning.
She also led Amelie Cordeau and Victoria Sebastian in a final defeat of Ukraine, 5-1, to secure the under-18 recurve women’s team world title.
India beat the French men, though, in the second team final.
Amit Kumar, Bishal Changmai and Vickey Ruhal made the difference early, starting fast and building a four-set-point. The French team recovered but a split fourth set gave the gold medal to India.
“We are very happy. It’s our independence day today and we’re happy that our flag will rise on the top with our national anthem,” said Changmai, whose third medal at these championships came in the mixed event.
He and Tamnna comfortably beat an unsettled Japan, 6-2, to gold.