Indian archers today confirmed four gold and as many silver medals in the individual recurve and compound sections at the 12th South Asian Games here.
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 told PTI:
“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.”
It was a tale to two seasoned Army archers making a comeback after a layoff as 2010 Dhaka SA Games defending champion and two-time Olympian Rai and Besra sailed into the final with easy wins against their respective opponents.
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.