Indian recurve teams climb podium twice in Guatemala City

Komalika Bari shoots during finals at the opening stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

India’s recurve women and the Spanish men were joined by Mexico’s mixed team on top of the podium during the morning finals session on Saturday at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

India also placed third in the mixed pairs event to give the nation a second highly coveted international medal. 

“It’s a very nice feeling. Ankita shot well – both with the women’s team and now with me,” said Atanu Das, who paired with Ankita Bhakat to beat the USA, 6-2, in the mixed team bronze medal match. “This is our first tournament [of the year], and we have started very well.”

Bhakat, Deepika Kumari and Komalika Bari took a strong step forward on their quest to augment India’s quota for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to a full women’s team by taking their first gold at a stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in seven years. The trio defeated Mexico’s Ana Vazquez, Alejandra Valencia and Aida Roman in a high-pressure shoot-off at the Sport Complex Los Arcos in Guatemala City.

“It’s very important for us to perform well here because we have to qualify for the Olympics,” Kumari said. “We want to handle the pressure, and this has helped.”

Bhakat and reigning under-18 world champion Bari assisted their veteran teammate in a back-and-forth match against Mexico, trading sets throughout before coming out on top in the tiebreak.

Kumari, the former world number one, is set to compete at her third consecutive Olympics, but India has yet to qualify a second and third recurve woman to the Games. Buoyed by their success this week, the trio will look to improve from one quota spot to a full three at the final qualification tournament in Paris in June.

Mexico, having featured in all three compound team gold medal matches on Saturday but finding success in just one, avenged its loss in the recurve women’s team final to win the mixed team gold medal match, beating Germany in four sets.

Angel Alvarado and Ana Vazquez, clearly elated, danced in celebration after their victory. 

“We’re very happy with the result. It was a great day,” Vazquez said. “In teams, we couldn’t do it because India did good shots, but I’m going back home pleased.”

The Spanish team made history in the recurve men’s team final.

Miguel Alvarino Garcia, Daniel Castro and Pablo Acha took their country’s first gold medal in the 15-year history of the event on the Hyundai Archery World Cup by beating the USA, 6-2.

The sixth seed after qualifications, Spain was dominant against the top-seeded USA line-up of reigning World Archery Champion Brady Ellison, Josef Scaraboro and Matthew Requa, sweeping the first two sets to take a 4-0 lead they never relinquished. 

“I think we’re a strong team and this year will be our year,” Alvarino said. “At the world championships in 2019, we had a bit of bad luck, but this time, not even with bad luck, we'll be beaten.”

Spain shot its lowest set of the match in the third, a 51-pointer, but followed up with a sweet 57 to close the contest out, 6-2. Acha shot an excellent 10 to finish and had tears in his eyes as he stepped off the line.

“In my head, it was clear that we needed the 10 to win,” he said. “It’s just one arrow and in this case, for me and my team it was preparation for the World Cup in Paris, where I’m confident we'll get the [Olympic quota] place.”

Much of the conversation around the recurve events on the circuit this year will, of course, centre around qualification for the Games.

“We’re going for it, we’re a consistent team from start to finish and we want to win all the World Cups and the World Archery Championships,” added Alvarino.

The recurve competition concludes with individual finals on Sunday afternoon at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.