Thursday was a satisfactory day for India’s men and women archers at the World Archery Championships in Copenhagen. Mangal Singh Champia ensured an individual Olympic quota berth for India and Rajat Chauhan and Laxmirani Majhi remained in the gold and bronze medal contention in the prestigious tournament. While Rajat Chauhan entered the final in the compound section, Laxmirani came close to earning the Bronze in the individual recurve for women. Three days, ago Laxmirani was among the three Indian women, who earned the Olympic berth for their country in the 2016 Rio Games.
After the men’s team failed to earn an Olympic quota two days ago, Champia began the quest for an individual berth for Rio. He began the day by defeating Spain’s Miguel Alvarino Garcia in the round of 32. Champia lost the first and third sets and trailed 2-4. But he bounced back superbly with some luck. The luck factor for Champia presented itself, when Garcia missed his third shot after scoring two perfects 10s. On his turn, Champia shot two 10s and one 9 to make it 4-4. At this stage, Garcia was under pressure and he committed a series of errors in the fifth set. But Champia held his nerves and seized the momentum with 10, 9, 9 and settled the issue in his favor with a 6 -4 win. In the round-of-sixteen, Champia came face to face with another Spaniard; the sixth seed Antonio Fernandez. Champia simply continued his sound performance in the earlier match against Miguel Alvarino Garcia. Fernandez looked good in part but Champia was superb in his 6-2 win that took him to the quarterfinals. That was enough for the 31-year-old former Olympian from the Indian state of Jharkhand to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games’ individual recurve category. But Champia couldn’t add to his joy further as he dropped out of medal contention. After beating Antonio Fernandez, he had a quarterfinal showdown with Venezuela’s Elias Malave. For a while, it looked as though Champia would carry the momentum of the day further, when he led 4-2. But the Indian frittered away the advantage and lost to Malave in the end.
However, India had something to cheer about in the tournament despite Deepika Kumari’s first round crash in women’s individual recurve section. Two Indian archers; Rajat Chauhan and Laxmirani Majhi advanced to Gold and Bronze medal play-offs respectively.
In the compound section, the 2014 Asian Games team gold medalist Rajat Chauhan simply thrashed Colombia’s Camilo Cardona of Colombia in a nearly one-sided semifinal, which ended at 143-138 in the Indian’s favor. On Saturday, Chauhan will clash with Denmark’s Stephen Hansen in the final. But Chauhan’s progress to the final was not easy. His toughest challenge came against Australia’s Robert Timms in the round-of-sixteen. Both players were locked 145-145 until the fifth set. The stalemate continued in the shoot-off and Chauhan was adjudged winner only because his arrow was closer to the center. Then in the quarterfinal, Chauhan had another tough opponent in Canada’s Kevin Tataryn, whom the Indian edged out 146-143.
Laxmirani Majhi kept Indian flag flying high in the individual recurve section with straight set victory Kristine Esebua of Georgia in the fourth round. In the quarterfinal, Laxmirani faced Mexico’s fifth seed Alejandra Valencia. In one of tournament’s big upsets, Laxmirani defeated Valencia 9-8 in the tense quarterfinal shoot off. But Laxmirani lost in the semifinal to top seed Shih-Chia Lin of Taipei after a hard-fought battle and had to be content with the bronze medal play-off. Earlier, Laxmirani’s teammate and former world no.1 Deepika Kumari had crashed out in her first match.