In a country, where sport is synonymous with cricket, the last Independence Day brought a sporting gloom of sort. For the cricket obsessed nation, Indian batsmen’s fantastic failure against Sri Lanka was like snatching defeat from the jaws of a certain victory. But they didn’t look beyond. Or else, they would have rejoiced in the commendable achievement of India’s archers at Stage 3 of Archery World Cup, which concluded at the Polish city of Wroclaw. Abhishek Verma hit the bull’s eye on Independence Day and won a gold medal for India. It was a sweet revenge for Verma, who had lost to the same opponent in the final of individual compound archery event of 2014 Asian Games at Incheon. There was further joy for India in the mixed category of the recurve event, when the combo of Deepika Kumari and Mangal Singh Champia bagged the silver. India could have added a bronze to the their Independence Day tally but in the men’s compound team event, the Indian team of Kawalpreet Singh, Rajat Chauhan and Abhishek Verma lost narrowly against the Italian team.
Indian archers have been in the news lately. In the 2015 World Championship at Copenhagen earlier this month, Rajat Chauhan won a silver medal in an individual event and women’s team of Deepika Kumari, Laxmirani Majhi and Rimil Buriuly added another silver in women’s recurve. In addition, India bagged Rio Olympic berths for women’s recurve team and Mangal Singh Champia in men’s individual recurve. In Poland’s Archery World Cup, four days ago, Delhi-based Abhishek Verma won a gold medal in the individual compound men’s event. For some years, the 26-year old Verma has emerged as an ace archer and he showed his excellence during the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, where he won the silver medal. In the Asian Games’ final, Verma was pitted against Iran’s Esmaeil Ebadi in the final but lost 141-145 to be satisfied with the second-place finish. Verma was also part of the Indian contingent, which won gold in the compound archery team event.
But, Abhishek Verma took his revenge in the Archery World Cup on August 15, 2015 since facing him in the final was the same Esmaeil Ebadi. Playing a perfect game, Verma shot ahead by two points after the first set and increased his lead by the second. Ebadi tried to make a comeback and kept on fighting, but the 22nd seeded Verma held his nerves very well. At the end of the fourth set, Verma had a 4-point literally unassailable lead. Verma’s lead slipped by just one point and with the final score of 148-145, he beat the Italian to clinch the World Cup gold. One of the first persons to greet Abhishek Verma was none other than the President of India Pranab Mukherjee, who tweeted a congratulatory message in recognition of Verma’s magnificent achievement.
There was further joy for India on Independence Day as the mixed recurve team of Deepika Kumari and Mangal Singh Champia bagged the silver. Deepika/Mangal lost the final to the Mexican duo of Aida Roman and Juan Rene Serrano. The Indian duo began very well and they were level at 36-36 at the end of the first set. But Deepika/Mangal couldn’t carry the momentum forward in second and third sets and Roman/Serrano raced away to the victory and the gold medal. Earlier, India’s team had a good run up to the final with a fine victory in the semi-finals against France. Deepika is a former world no.1 and 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medalist and she will count the silver at the World’s as another decorated feather in her well-endowed cap.
However, Deepika had some disappointment since she was seeded second in the tournament but finally finished ninth. Though her team silver with Mangal Champia was a source of some solace, she would still like to better her performance on an individual level. India, however, missed out on the Team Bronze in men’s compound event. Pitted against the higher ranked Italian side, India’s team of Kawalpreet Singh, Rajat Chauhan and Abhishek Verma lost the third place finish by three points despite a brave fight.