India had never won an individual medal in the World Archery Championship until Rajat Chauhan broke the jinx. The 2014 Asian Games team gold medalist Chauhan faced Denmark’s Stephen Hansen, a formidable foe in the compound final. But the Indian fought neck-to-neck with Hansen and made the Dane sweat out for victory. Until the start of the third set, it was anybody’s game but when Chauhan shot a poor 8 and 9, the balance tilted in Hansen’s favor. Once the Dane acquired a three-point lead, he wrapped up a 147-143 victory to clinch the gold medal.
It was a battle between two 20-year olds at the iconic Christiansburg Palace of Copenhagen with Stephen Hansen holding a home turf advantage against India’s Rajat Chauhan. With the home favorite Hansen carrying his nation’s expectations on his shoulders, he knew pretty well that Chauhan had been one of the most consistent archers on the international circuit. It showed in the first set, when both archers shot 29 out of 30. The story got repeated in the second set, at the end of which the scores were tied at 58-58. Chauhan slipped in the third and allowed a three-point lead by scoring 10. 8 and 9 while Hansen found a perfect 10, 10, 10. But Chauhan didn’t give up as he sprang back to produce scores of 10, 10, 10 in the fourth set. That brought the score to 115-117. In the final set, however, the Dane scored all the 30 points to Chauhan’s 28. It was all over for the Indian, as the gold went out of his reach. Amidst loud cheering by home fans, the young Dane walked away with top honors in a 147-143 victory.
After the match, Hansen confessed to his friends and family that his nerves were rattled by the fierce show put up by the Indian. It was a lucky day for Hansen, who had won a compound category team bronze with his fellow Danes, Martin Damsbo and Patrick Laursen in morning. In the third place play-off match, Denmark defeated the Italian team of Sergio Pagni, Federico Pagnoni and Luigi Dragoni in a close contest. Before facing Rajat Chauhan, Hansen had also beaten 2013 World Champion Mike Schloesser in the shoot-off. On his part, Chauhan had come through the final, after beating Canadian Kevin Tataryn 146-143 in the quarterfinal and Colombian Camilo Andres Cardona 143-138 in the semifinal.
The show is not yet over for the Indian archers at Copenhagen. They have two more medal prospects on Sunday. In the recurve section for women, India’s team of Deepika Kumari, Rimil Buriuly and Laxmirani Majhi can clinch gold if they beat the Russian team of Inna Stepanova, Tuyana Dashidorzhieva and Ksenia Perova in the final. In any case, the silver is assured even if India lose out to the Russians. In the individual recurve section, Laxmirani Majhi will eye for the bronze, when she takes on Korea’s Misun Choi for the third place play-off.